At the end of 2009, I wrote about the possibilities of 2010. I wrote about accomplishing something extraordinary; about the potential of a brand new year. Looking back over that year, I admit some extraordinary things happened.
One accomplishment would certainly be graduating. In December, I finally earned my BA. I worked very hard to do this: I endeavored to balance work, school, and family… and I succeeded with a cumulative GPA of 3.99. That’s me praising myself, not bragging, and it’s probably all you’ll ever hear about my grades.
Onto the more important accomplishment. When I say I balanced family, I certainly did. I balanced home life with my husband and our pets, but also pregnant life. In the spring of 2010, I conceived our first child, a soon-to-be-born baby boy. While the particular art of conception may be less impressive than achieving graduation, the results are even more life-changing and incredible. I could not have predicted how much my life would change, or in what ways it would change, over the past 35 weeks. And I definitely cannot predict how it will change again in another month or so, although both my husband and I are ridiculously excited about those changes.
Hopefully, my big accomplishment for 2011 will be the successful delivery of a healthy baby boy!
© Alexis Jenny, 2011.
The New Decade’s Population, Consumption, and Impacts: A Review of National Geographic’s “State of the Earth 2010”
There are 6.8 billion people on this planet, and its been said that we consume far more than we have available. Knowledge is rarely an issue in the United States. Most Americans have easy access to information and opportunities to join global efforts to conserve resources. So where do we stand?
According to National Geographic’s latest collector’s edition, EarthPulse 2010, Americans consume far more of Earth’s resources than the British, South Africans, Argentines, Costa Ricans, and Indians. If each of these cultures consumed like Americans, we’d require more than five Earths to sustain us. In contrast, if we all consumed similarly to Indians, we’d only need a fraction of the Earth to keep us all alive and thriving. Obviously, the U.S. is a problem. Americans contribute the most damage to human consumption numbers, which ranks in at about an Earth and a half when all 6.8 billion people are included. Fortunately, Americans account for only a small fraction of the number of humans on Earth.
Humans do not exactly inhabit Earth’s space evenly. According to the article, “Crowding Our Planet,” our numbers expand by about 200,000 people each day. Countries with high numbers are beginning to sustain themselves, while developing countries are exploding in population. But we’re all trying to live green, right?
The article, “Straining Our Resources,” pinpoints some of our problem areas. For example, only 10 percent of large saltwater fish remain in the wild. About one-fourth of Earth’s fertile soil has been abused. Despite our efforts, greenhouse gases have increased far quicker than expected. Perhaps the few Hybrid cars on the market aren’t doing the trick.
The government has tried to solve the issue of high-priced Hybrids in the U.S. by implementing tax cuts for their purchases. This is great for people who can afford the initial investment, but the majority won’t purchase electric or Hybrid cars until they are cost-efficient. Money has a lot to do with why we can’t all live as green as we should. Next time you’re at the grocery store, compare prices of organic produce with that of chemically grown produce. Check out the “Natural” section’s prices versus the prices of products throughout the rest of the store. There is a reason organic products are more expensive: it costs more to produce them. Likewise, it’s much cheaper to buy a carton of eggs from chickens stacked in cages than free-range chickens. Can you afford to buy the product that’s better for you and for the planet? Sometimes the answer is no. We might buy the reusable tote bags, donate to The Nature Conservatory, recycle, turn our lights our for Earth Hour… but ultimately our governments need to step up and find global solutions to much of these problems in order to make a bigger difference. And these days, the Earth could use a bigger difference.
This is not to say that our efforts as individuals are insufficient. Human history demonstrates that small progress leads to great changes. So, this Saturday remember to turn your lights out for one hour beginning at 8:30pm and don’t hesitate to purchase your very own carbon offset.
I recommend reading National Geographic’s “State of the Earth” edition for two reasons: One, for its vast amount of useful information and insight into the other cultures that share the planet with us, and two, to inspire you to make some further assessments. This information is critical to the survival of our species and the planet. Although I am a wildlife enthusiast and a nature lover, this edition should appeal to even the most people-centered individuals. Protecting and conserving the health of the Earth benefits humans just as much as it benefits every other creature in the world.
To illustrate this, check out the section on irrigation. Water supply, specifically, is as essential to our agriculture as it is to the survival of all plant and animal life. Americans often take access to safe water for granted, but water is, in fact, a very limited resource. More than a billion people don’t have the luxury of drinking safe water. And water is not just used for farming and drinking and washing. Most industrial and electrical generation rely heavily on water. Furthermore, we have polluted our air so much that we can no longer rely on precipitation to refresh our water supply.
It’s not all bad news, of course. Humans are beginning the journey toward less harmful footprints, and population numbers in developed areas like Japan and Korea are beginning to stabilize. Globalization and migration have offered new opportunities. One of which, of course, is knowledge.
© Alexis Jenny, 2011.
- Rebuilding Our Planet Earth (socyberty.com)
- Does Helping the Planet Hurt the Poor? (online.wsj.com)
- National Geographic’s ’7 billion’ goes viral, highlights global issues (sociable.co)
It’s almost 2010, and that means big things. For starters, it means the game is changing. The history we make will belong to a new decade. You might be thinking that time is just a human creation; that this silly time-line of ours is meaningless. But it’s important for at least two reasons.
One: Time is how we record our evolution. Time makes sense out of our species and our pasts as individuals. Because of this, time helps us when we endeavor to shape our futures.
Two: The New Year is something to celebrate. Regardless of what culture influences you or what calendar you plan by, a new year is simply a new beginning. Shed your skin and plan for something extraordinary.
Some have predicted that our world ends in upcoming years. Such beliefs are evidence of an encroaching realm of possibility. Anything can happen, and all endings give way to new beginnings. If we can trust in anything, it’s that our lives and the lives around us exist in cycles. The seasons will always take their turns, regardless of how they may change. Nature will always give and take energy. We are simply the borrowers of that energy. Let’s do something with it. If we imagine greatness, we are more likely to achieve it.
With every year that passes, I become more amazed with my survival and the survival of those around me. Our lives are so fragile and our world so complex, we can’t underestimate the value of our own existence.
It’s the end of the first decade in a new century. What better reason to celebrate?
© Alexis Jenny, 2009, 2010, 2011.