The greatest threat to Earth is... humanity
For many years now, UN reports have been full of facts that are difficult to interpret ambiguously. These are air and water pollution, deforestation, and land exploitation. Few people harm Planet Earth more than the human species. And at the same time, few people are more interested in saving the planet from a global environmental catastrophe. Is there a way out of this self-destructive paradox?
"The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable," says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres adding that "greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible." It is estimated that around one million animals and plants are threatened with extinction, natural resources are being depleted at a record-breaking, unprecedented rate. And of course, the human factor plays a key role in this.
It would seem that advances in technology and values should help protect the environment, but the reality is somewhat different – numerous chemical spills, nuclear accidents, explosions, uncontrolled use of natural resources, deforestation, and water and air pollution. Over the past decades, human-caused environmental disasters have become even more dramatic in their scale and impact.
On April 20, 2010 the oil drilling rig Deepwater Horizon exploded causing a massive oil leak of about 700 cubic meters (154 million gallons)
The Deepwater Horizon accident, or oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is regarded as one of the largest environmental disasters in world history.
The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, operated by British Petroleum (BP), was located on the seabed 4,993 feet (1,522 meters) below the surface in the Macondo oil field in the Mississippi Canyon, Gulf of Mexico. During the night, a surge of natural gas blasted through the concrete core, causing a huge accident. Later, documents published by Wikileaks revealed that BP had already had a similar incident on a drilling platform in the Caspian Sea in September 2008. Presumably, the cores used on the rig were too fragile to withstand the pressure. The concrete mix for the cores contained nitrogen gas to speed hardening.
As a result of the explosion, 27 people were injured, 11 of them died. Once the rig capsized and sank without any opposing force, oil began to discharge into the gulf. The volume of oil escaping the damaged well—originally estimated by BP to be about 1,000 barrels per day—was thought by U.S. government officials to have peaked at more than 60,000 barrels per day.
It took 5 months to stop the continuous oil leakage and at last, in late September it was announced that the well was completely plugged.
The oil leak formed a slick extending over more than 57,500 square miles (149,000 square km) of the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana's beaches, marshes and estuaries were contaminated and so were the beaches of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas. The flora and fauna of the coastline were critically affected. In all, an estimated 1,100 miles (1,770 km) of shoreline were polluted.
The Deepwater Horizon accident has jeopardized the ecosystem of the entire Gulf of Mexico. Today, scientists continue to record the consequences of this environmental disaster. For example, 80% of the dolphins that survived the accident are still struggling with the consequences, suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), while 45% of the Barataria Bay dolphin population died immediately after the 2010 disaster.
May 28, 2006, a well drilling accident. Mud volcano. Contamination area: over 25 km
A technological failure during the gas well drilling process near the city of Sidoarjo, Indonesia, turned into a disaster. Reaching a depth of almost 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), the rig of PT Lapindo Brantas exploded killing eleven people. Water, steam, and gas began to escape from the ground. The next day, the "eruption" did not stop - boiling mud and natural gas joined the mix. Since 2006, this process has not stopped completely. Instead, the world's largest mud volcano was formed.
Initially, according to the BBC, the volcano erupted at a rate of more than 6.3 million cubic feet (180,000 cubic meters) of mud per day.
The dirt spread across the fields, swallowing up entire settlements. 30,000 people were evacuated from the suburb of Sidoarjo. Dozens of villages and more than 10,000 homes were destroyed. The government began to build dams, but the mud flow flooded them as well. After years of exhausting efforts the eruption was never fully contained.
As a result of the environmental disaster, 60,000 people were forced to leave their homes forever. Heavy metals from the mudflow got into the groundwater and nearby water bodies.
Scientists estimate that the eruption could continue for another two to three decades. A pessimistic scenario suggests that the consequences of human error will destroy the Indonesian province for another century.
March 20-21, 2014. Russian troops invaded the territory of Ukraine. The preliminary estimate of environmental damage is $53 billion
Russia's invasion of the Ukrainian Crimea in 2014 marked the beginning of more than just a war against people and country. Russia launched the largest ecocide in modern history. The peninsula's nature-unique protected areas were turned into military bases.
In 2022, the geography of environmental terror by the Russian Federation expanded. Following the invasion land, air, water sources were polluted, forests were burned, and natural resources were destroyed. The war has damaged more than three million hectares of forest. The total area of mined territories is 174 thousand km2, which is twice the size of Austria.
Ten national parks, eight nature reserves, and two biosphere reserves have been seized by the Russian occupiers with 600 species of fauna and 750 species of flora under increased threat of extinction.
The ecologists record the massive death of dolphins due to numerous Russian warships and spontaneous mining of the Black and Azov Seas by Russians.
Russia poses a threat to the global environment. First, Russian troops tried to seize the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. For the record, the 1986 Chornobyl accident is called "the world's worst nuclear incident" - 3/4 of Europe was contaminated with radioactive cesium, 8.5 million people were exposed to significant doses of radiation, and 500,000 died.
Today, the Russians are exposing the world to nuclear danger again, violating all norms and principles of international law. The Russian military turned the Zaporizhzhya NPP into a military base. The territory of the plant has been mined, and numerous munitions are stored in rooms with strictly limited access. ZNPP is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. In case of an accident, the potential radiation contamination could affect an area of more than 2 million square kilometers, while the contamination zone after the Chornobyl accident was 200 square kilometers.
Planet Earth is heating up and the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees is "perilously close". UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls for "stepping up our efforts, and pursuing the most ambitious path". IPCC experts are confident that global temperature can stabilize in 20-30 years. The secrets of success are clear: "inclusive and green economy, prosperity, cleaner air, better health". However, it seems that today we should add Russia's defeat in its war of aggression and just punishment for its crimes to the list.