Cover photo Vivian Haddad /Text Susanne Gold
Sad high – Humans are outcompeting nature for the first time.
Everything we humans produce is referred to as “anthropogenic material” by experts. For the first time, there are more of these than there are materials produced by nature. That is the sad conclusion of a study by scientists from the Institute of Science in Israel. According to this study, there are currently more anthropogenic materials than biomass in the world.
1.1 teratonnes of material come from human hands
Anthropogenic materials include houses, roads and technical equipment. Researchers are particularly concerned about the amount of plastic produced by humans.
The world’s plastic together weighs more than all the land and water animals on our planet.
This was the result of the researchers’ calculations after they divided the biomass into dry mass and wet weight for their calculation. Most of the man-made material is accounted for by infrastructure, such as roads and settlements. Our bodies were added to the biomass, i.e. attributed to nature. Nevertheless, in this calculation, human bodies make up a total of only 0.01 per cent of the natural mass.
Age of Artificial Substance: Age of Madness!
Everyone knows about the huge plastic waste vortex in the ocean, which is as big as a continent, and about the many marine animals that die daily from plastic. Plastic decomposes slowly. A plastic bottle, for example, is estimated to decompose after about 450 years. Even baby nappies, which we use inflationary in the first years of our children’s lives, decompose after about 350 years. Our children’s nappies live longer than our children themselves. According to The Ocean Cleanup initiative, about eight million tones of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year. Since the rubbish does not decompose, it is driven together by the currents to form enormous rubbish eddies. Animals get caught in the rubbish and die helplessly. They mistake plastic for food or starve to death, even though their stomachs are full. But the inland waters of our world are also polluted. Every day, remnants of plastic, detergents or hygiene products enter the natural cycle via our lakes and rivers. Plastic can also cause great harm to humans. Plastic and its toxic pollutants are everywhere, and they can enter our bodies through a variety of pathways.
Should we panic, as Greta Thunberg demands?
After all, we are facing uncertain years in many areas, especially with regard to dwindling fossil fuel resources, but also with regard to dwindling key resources such as water and food. As far as climate change is concerned, things look anything but rosy for us in the long term. One thing is clear: we need technological and highly specialized solutions in the long term. But there are also short-term remedies, as the Corona crisis showed us in a special way: Less traffic on the roads, industrial production partially paralyzed, offices deserted, many planes grounded. Whether the Corona crisis had a positive effect on air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and noise-related health risks – that has been the subject of much debate. What is clear is that it cat at least a short-term effect. A long-term improvement can only be achieved by a global and targeted climate and environmental policy that changes production structures, infrastructures and consumption and mobility patterns in a sustainable and lasting way. We need real and above all – global – solutions, which we can probably only achieve together and within the framework of a worldwide organization.
What can psychotherapy teach us for climate change?
National attempts have not achieved much so far, and the recommendations of the Paris Agreement are not being implemented. Until we reach a global solution, each of us should feel challenged to follow the principle of small steps, as people are also advised to do in therapies to achieve higher-level goals, such as overcoming an addiction.
Every purchase is a ballot paper for the future of our planet!
Every individual can exert an influence and bring about a change with his or her individual consumption and purchasing behavior. Many everyday products and foodstuffs can be produced by oneself. Washing and cleaning can also be done naturally and sustainably. There are now a number of guides and blogs dedicated to the topic of plastic avoidance and sustainability.
Our forests – not yet lost!
The largest part of biomass – the equivalent of anthropogenic material – is made up of vegetation – especially the forests of our planet. Global afforestation could therefore increase biomass and, above all, effectively combat climate change. This is also the result of a study from Switzerland. Researchers from ETH Zurich report this in their study, which appeared in the journal “Science“. In her Twitter video,Greta Thunberg invites every citizen of the world to become part of the solution to our global problem. She calls for each individual to be mindful of his or her consumption behavior. More and more, this insight also seems to be establishing itself in the business world, and instead of paying lip service to green sustainability, companies are being founded whose business model reads like a ballot paper for change.
Surfing for the forests of the earth!
For example, anyone searching for something on the internet can use a very special search engine and make a contribution to saving the climate! Ecosia: a search engine that plants trees with every click. The company has also recently joined the fintech start-up Treecard, which donates to the reforestation of our planet every time a purchase is made with their credit card.
A credit card for the climate.
Both Ecosia and Treecard want to plant trees with the profits of their companies to help improve the climate and save the world. Ecosia is participating in a strategic partnership with the British fintech Treecard with an investment of one million euros. While the search engine Ecosia expands its business, Treecard can quickly build a customer base through Ecosia’s existing customers.
The figures show that the company is not concerned with lip service!
After all, the young company plans to distribute a whole 80 percent of its profits for planting new trees! As with Ecosia, the remaining 20 percent will be used to finance the company’s growth. Revenues are to be generated solely through merchant transaction fees. Treecard is scheduled to launch in the USA, Great Britain and the EU in 2021. Those who do not want to wait only for technological and global solutions can thus start with small steps. With their shopping behavior and with their internet behavior. Let’s at least give it a try!