When we hear about environmental movements, the term 'save the planet' is often at the forefront. Humans are responsible for species extinction, the rise of extreme weather events and so much more. Often this isn't enough to catch people's attention, or at least hold it for longer than one of David's documentaries, and after a while thoughts of 'saving the planet' are long gone. The reality of the situation is that the planet will be around for billions of years, with or without humans. Perhaps it's time for a new slogan, one that might capture more attention... 'save ourselves'.

Throughout history, there has been 5 mass extinctions events. The first, Ordovician-Silurian, is thought to have been caused by the sudden creation of the Appalachian Mountains, which sucked carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and drastically cooled the planet. Mass glaciation dried the oceans, dealing a major blow to marine life. Around 60 million years later, several sudden drops in oxygen levels lead to the Late Devonian extinction, but the cause of the changes is debated, ranging from volcanos to asteroids. The third and most severe mass extinction, Permian-Triassic, was due to the eruption of a volcanic complex which released 14.5 million tons of carbon. To put this into context, this is over 2 times more carbon than would be released if all fossil fuel reserves on earth were burned. Wiping out 96% of life on earth, this event is known as 'The Great Dying'. Another carbon-related mass extinction came next, the Triassic-Jurassic, which is also likely to have been triggered by magmatic activity. The final event, and most well known, was the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction, where an asteroidal impact wiped out the dinosaurs. Again, matters were made worse by volcanic eruptions, which were likely caused by the impact. The time between these events ranges from around 60 to 160 million years. It's been 66 million years since Cretaceous-Paleogene.

Throughout all of these extinctions, the planet remained, revolving around the sun in its usual manner. The species which called Earth home however, did not remain. Each of the 5 extinctions were triggered by event which lead to climate change (keep an eye on those volcano's... scary stuff) and these changes in climate caused the extinctions. Species which previously flourished on earth weren't able to evolve quickly enough to the changes in their ecosystems.

Climate Action Poster by the UN

That brings us to today, and what many people are calling the Holocene extinction, the 6th mass extinction event. Researches have found that the current rate of extinction is between 100 and 1,000 times higher than the pre-human background rate of extinction. Land change such as deforestation, the burning of fossil fuels for energy, hunting and overfishing, the list of goes on -human activity is causing extinction and causing global warming. Forget volcanos and asteroids, the event that is causing Holocene is the existence of us. If we continue as we are, the planet will solve that problem by removing humans from the equation.

So, the phrase 'save the planet' doesn't really make much sense. If humans were to disappear completely, the planet would continue to evolve and thrive without us - what we need to do is save ourselves! See the video below to look at what would happen in a world without humans.

As terrible and selfish as it sounds, this reality check might be enough to kick us in action. It's time to curve climate change by protecting biodiversity and repairing the damage we have done to the current hospitable version of Earth. So, if you won't do it for the planet, do it for yourself!

Climate Action Poster by the UN

Goodbye, for now!

I hope you enjoyed this read, I know it's a little different to others that I have done but I thought it would be a cool topic to leave on! I haven't been able to write for Greener Grasses in such a long time and even though it saddens me, I'm having to leave my baby behind for a while! I started a placement in September working as an Environmental Consultant and I now manage WILD Magazine, a student ran sustainability magazine, so I feel I can't give my all to Greener Grasses at the moment. I'm hoping to back in a year or so to pick up were I left off!

I've loved the last 2 years of writing this blog and hope you enjoyed all the posts, maybe they even helped you reduce your individual impact! Every time someone sends me a message about a post, lets me know they have been reading or tells me they made a switch, little rainbows and love hearts appear round my head! I'll miss it...

As always, thanks for reading!

Antonia :) <3

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