Environment disasters – who is to blame?

Environmental disasters – a phrase which commonly conjures up images of the devastating effects of the wrath of Mother Nature upon human lies. However, upon further close scrutiny, one would realize that so much more is at stake than a few thousand lives lost. The existence of everything around us is in jeopardy because of environmental disasters. Especially when the diversity and quality of life, with drastic climate changes, rising water levels, and the many varieties of living organisms are wiped off the face of the earth, how much more hits can the planet Earth take from us? While the large majority of the human population is to blame for wasting resources in the daily course of our lies, the main culprit would be the ruthless industrialists who put profit-making on the top of their priorities, regardless of its sacrifices, and mainly world leaders (governments) who have the power and means to stop them.

Drastic climate changes and temperature fluctuations are one of the side effects from the excessive release of greenhouse gas emissions. Thirty years ago (1970s), the earth experienced a cooling effect due to the introduction of aerosols into the market. Now, with refrigerators, chlorofluorocarbon emissions are breaking down the ozone layer. Consumers as well as irresponsible manufacturers are definitely to blame for this climate crisis. Despite knowing that aerosols and CFCs are degrading the environment, educated consumers are still fuelling the market for such products.

Another environmental disaster is a result of what the market consumers have created – the extinction and endangerment of animals. While poachers and private businesses clamour to meet the demands of consumers, they have caused various species of tigers and foxes to be reduced to being endangered species. While polar bears are not yet under that, they might soon join them. With polar caps melting due to the rise in temperature, there have been many reports of polar bears and other mammals drowning from exhaustion when they could not find land to rest on. Instead of rising to protest against green house gas emissions, there are people who actually believe these are coincidences which should be ignored. While environmentalists and politicians like Al Gore are petitioning to save the planet, there are many who mock them through forums and the Internet.

Well-intentioned organizations are partially to blame for their incompetence and inefficiency as well. Despite having regular meetings such as the APEC World Summit, they are consistently forming vague conclusions like “will take a step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions”. While many private organizations are petitioning, and funding these environmental conservation campaigns, these international environment conservation groups have yet to make any significant impact.

Another environmental disaster that happens frequently is oil spillage. Petrol companies as well as the military are to blame. In 1991, the Gulf War oil spills were the worst in history with an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of crude oil dumped into the sea. The environmental implications were disastrous as many forms of sea life perished and its lingering after-effects can still be observed a decade later. The toxic vapours killed marine life while the oil poisoned the birds when it was ingested by accident. The worst part of all was that the oil spillage was intentional. The countries along the coast dumped tonnes of crude oil into their waters in an attempt to deter US marine ships from entering their habours. The oil slick was 4 inches thick for miles, and the wildlife there has never recovered since. This shows that politics have a part to play in environmental degradation.

The flight to becoming the most affluent between countries has also led to countries refusal to acknowledge that environment disasters are a pressing concern. With a mixture of political and economic reasons, the United States of America refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Despite international talks of sustainable economic growth, many countries are not willing to slow down or compromise their production to invest in environmental conservation schemes.

As Al Gore mentioned in his movie – “An Inconvenient Truth” – if Earth’s resources are depleted or destroyed, life would not be sustainable, let alone material wealth. If a few percent of economic growth must be sacrificed to preserve the only planet we lie on, then so be it. It is such a pity that there are so many parties which do not realize that. If future environmental disasters are to be presented, it would take a lot more than the efforts of a few campaign organizations. The cooperation of world leaders would be needed.