Planet Earth

Essay by cenafranchise July 2008

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Picture this: a blue planet protected by a fine layer of atmosphere which keeps the temperature, air and water in perfect balance to maintain life. In the cold depths of space this planet is a virtual paradise. The only one known of its kind and it is our planet, Earth. But something is wrong: the life-sustaining systems in this planet are breaking down.

What happened? Us.

Human civilization and our relentless consumption, has brought this planet to the brink. But specifically it's our destructive addiction to one resource that may push us over the edge. And that resource is oil.

Oil is essentially ancient sunlight. Since the dawn of time, plants captured sunlight; after billions of years of decomposing in the earth. This fossilized sunlight became a fuel: oil, coal or gases. This ancient sunlight has become modern civilization's battery pack. The problem is, oil is a finite resource, and we are running out of the very thing that our society is dependant on to function.

But worse, our burning of coal and other fossil fuels has dumped over 700 billion tons of carbon pollution in the atmosphere, as if it were a sewer. We are altering life on this planet.

How? The accumulated pollution causes the atmosphere to trap more of the sun's heat. The earth's surface temperature is actually going up. This is what is known as global warming. "Warming" -the word almost sounds inviting; suggesting that twenty years from now, we would be living in a tropical paradise, where the extent of our problems would be which SPF sunscreen to use. But don't be fooled; thousands of climatologists agree that global warming is not only the most threatening environment problem but also one of the greatest challenges facing all humanity. The 1990's alone have been...