The “European Enlightenment” of the 18th century was supposed to have led in a new age: when man’s activities were informed by reason and rationality, rather than the “superstitions” that existed before.
Unfortunately, while it led to great progress in most areas of learning and producing new products for consumption, it also led to the most devastating wars in the history of mankind, and to the creation of weapons that can, literally, destroy all life. on Earth. overnight.
By the 20th century, however, another threat to life on Earth was surrendered, after evidence accumulated from the previous century finally became irreversible: pollution and poisoning of the land and waters by effluents from industrial production and use of the same goods as were supposed to present the good life to mankind.
By then the USA had clawed its way to becoming the most “developed” country in the world, so it was no surprise that it had produced the most pollutants and become the most polluted. By 1970, exactly one hundred years after the Industrial Revolution was due to be launched, an American Senator initiated a campaign for the annual commemoration of “Earth Day” on April 21, to publicize the need to reduce global pollution. Earth.
At that time, leaching of fertilizers and the dumping of industrial waste into rivers were considered the most potent pollutants. Since then the United States and other developed countries have done much to reverse that trend.
On the other hand, the Third World, in its quest to become the First World, has now not only lifted the slack in the production of pollutants, but has already surpassed the aforementioned pollutants. In addition, it has been discovered that Earth’s pollution has been much more stealthy and pervasive.
Burning petroleum and other fossil fuels, like coal, all produce the carbon dioxide gas, which accumulates in the atmosphere and acts to prevent radiant energy from affecting the Earth from the Sun’s escape into space . As such, with the onset of the boom in the production of goods by the Industrial Revolution, its carbon dioxide waste was making the atmosphere constant and priceless. This, in turn, released all sorts of harmful effects, such as changing weather patterns and higher sea levels, caused by even faster melting ice caps.
While many were fighting “global warming”, especially from those who benefited from fossil fuel production, the United Nations made a fin-de-siècle warning that we could not afford to go beyond a 2C rise in 19th century temperatures. century. This would push global warming beyond its tipping point, with its concomitant climate change that could lead to an even faster rise in sea level, crop failures, and the collapse of coral reefs and priceless ecosystems. According to the report, the world can only continue to release carbon for about another 23 years before it has a more than two-thirds chance of exceeding the 2C limit.
But this year’s Earth Day theme highlighted yet another aspect of our unconscious destruction of the fragile Earth ecosystem that allows life as we know it: plastic pollution. Plastic production – an entirely new substance that was never produced in the billions of years of Earth’s existence – was seen as a wonder of the Industrial Revolution. Today, its use is ubiquitous, but so is its disposal; and since it is not “biodegradable”, it is now considered a pollutant from many angles.
In Guyana, we should all be aware of its effects when clogging canals and causing massive floods on our coasts. But a new threat has been revealed: the amount of plastic in the oceans will soon be larger than marine life, and a threat to the latter’s survival.
Perhaps the old “superstitious” belief should be revived given the treatment and treatment of the Earth as our “mother”?

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