Is the world as we know, ending?

As I write this edition of #NinaAndNana from Belgrade (which is a part of my very long and circuitous journey back home), my news feed is filled with alarming images of what is happening in Afghanistan. Hard fought women rights and freedoms is now under severe threat. More on that in another post and at another time. Today, Nina and Nana are here to talk of nine different ecological and environmental threats to the earth.

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Nina: Nana, Nana.

Nana: What is happening now?!

Nina: What would you say is the most severe threat to earth right now?

Nana: Duh! Climate change, of course. Every school kid knows it.

Nina: What if I told you that there are eight other interlinked ecological and environmental disasters waiting to happen?

Nana: Are there new threats being identified now, beyond the climate?!

Nina: Yes and No. Besides climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation, chemical pollution, disrupting phosphorus cycles, overuse of fresh water, ozone depletion, particle pollution and bio diversity loss are other threats that have the potential to cause a planet wide catastrophe. Of course, many of them are interlinked.

Nana: Interlinked, how?

Nina: Ocean acidification is of course a corollary of climate change, as is deforestation. We just heard last week that the Amazon rainforest is slowly changing its nature from that of a huge carbon sink to a net carbon emitter contributing further to the global warming. Ocean acidification is killing off beneficial species such as corals that support extensive marine ecosystems which are now being wiped off. Bio diversity loss leading to mass extinctions severely disrupt both the food chains and massive ecosystems around the world. Imagine lions and tigers going extinct in India or Africa. Unchecked deer populations would lead to massive destruction of savannahs and forest ecosystems.

Nana: Oh gosh, that sounds dreadful! Isn’t water a recyclable resource though?

Nina: Yes, but in which form the water exists as a resource, is critically important for supporting all life on land. By over damming rivers and excessive diverting of streams and other fresh water sources on land, we risk destroying fresh water species as well as nutrient cycles inland which is almost exclusively dependent on the natural flow.

Nana: All of this sounds gloomy. Is there no light at the end of the tunnel?

Nina: Of course there is. Professor Johan Rockström’s researches have led to the inevitable conclusion that if the world governments get their act together now, some of the worst impacts may be mitigated. We are already way past controlling climate change though. Greenland has had its first liquid rainfall in all of recorded human history this week further adding to mountains of evidence already on how this once frozen lands are now rapidly warming.

Nana: This sounds like one of those typical instances where governmental action or inaction can literally change the world. I remember how governments across the world worked together in the 1980’s to bn usage of CFC’s and other chemicals harming the ozone layer. As a result we live in a world much safer, with a replenished ozone layer. Let’s hope something similar happens now!

You can find a related climate change post here on what’s happening around the world.

Credits:

Much of the material in this post has been informed by publicly available research details prepared and presented by Professor Johan Rockström as well as David Attenborough’s netflix documentary on Breaking Boundaries.

This post is a part of the #NinaAndNana series that I co-host with Kanika G.

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