Climate change - One of the biggest threats to the planet or a political hot potato? While you are likely to have your own view, it cannot be denied that some human activities are detrimental to the environment.
From manifesting things like pollution to the more esoteric threat of climate change, it might be wise to at least consider that mankind is negatively impacting the environment in some shape or form.
While claims about the world ending in 12 years are arguably hyperbole, reducing our dependence on finite resources like fossil fuels is probably an admirable goal. With that in mind (and attempting to avoid the quagmire of this highly politicized issue), there are some initiatives being conducted by governments that could help us achieve this.
How can we "save" our mother Earth?
Whatever your opinion on this, it would be negligent to admit that it is not, in some way, influenced by propaganda. Phrases like "save the planet" are a prime example - it is, in essence, something of a misnomer. To "save" the planet implies that it is in any way under threat of destruction.
If all life on Earth were to become extinct tomorrow the planet, in and of itself, would be absolutely fine. It is actually very difficult to destroy a planet - unless you can build a Death Star, of course.
What is really meant by this concept is that man's activities are threatening biodiversity and, by extension, humanity's future. Issues like climate change, if claims are correct, could potentially be civilization-ending.
So with that in mind, if true, what could we do to mitigate our impact on the planet?
As it happens there are a few areas where Governments, and more importantly private enterprises, are working to help make humanity more "sustainable".
How can we protect nature and the biosphere?
Various publications, like the Guardian, have managed to identify some important areas that might hold the key to mitigating man's impact on the environment. If we could make some significant changes in these areas, then "doomsday" scenarios about the future could be put to rest.
1. Would you eat lab-grown, 3D-printed or plant-based "meat"?
Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas. In fact, it is about 30 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide.
According to studies, one main source of methane is from animal husbandry - namely livestock farming. More specifically, practices like cattle farming are contributing huge amounts of this gas every year to the atmosphere.
Around the world, beef and dairy products are in high demand and are rising year in year out. Logically speaking it might be a good idea to try to reduce our consumption of these products to help control, or at least reduce, methane emissions around the world.
The problem is that, and understandably, most people hate being told what to eat. Plus meat and dairy products are very tasty.
One solution might be to replace large livestock farms with either plant-based "meat" substitutes or invest more in lab-grown or 3D printing meat. To date, there is currently a lot of financial investment going into these initiatives.
Large dairy and meat producers like Tyson, Danone and Nestle are forging ahead with developed plant-based alternatives to traditional meat sources. Governments, like China and Israel, have also started putting large amounts of money into this research.
Such initiatives would not only significantly reduce methane emissions but could potentially, be more beneficial for our health.
2. Better batteries might be the key
Renewable energy sources are great in theory, but they have one major "Achilles Heel" - the ability to store power when the sun goes down or the wind dies down. They are also a major component of electric cars that promise to break man's dependence on fossil fuels (at least when all electricity generation becomes "green").
But we currently seem to have a major obstacle to overcome - batteries. Better, long-lasting, cheap, and larger storage batteries are widely considered the key to making renewable, and electrical vehicle, technologies a viable solution to eliminate fossil fuel dependence.
This is one area where Governments, and private enterprises, are investing large sums of money into research. As alternatives to existing solutions like Lithium-Ion are being developed, the costs for Li-On are also plummeting over time.
According to sources, like the Guardian, "The International Renewable Energy Agency expects further falls of 50-66% by 2030 and a massive increase in battery storage, linked to increasingly smart and efficient digital power grids. In the UK alone, government advisers say a smart grid could save bill-payers £8 billion a year by 2030, as well as slashing carbon emissions."
If achievable, this would dramatically reduce man's impact on the environment. But, like anything synthetically created by man, the environmental impacts of battery manufacturing will also need to be considered.
3. Maybe, just maybe, we should stop chopping down trees
If we are serious about cutting human greenhouse emissions, it might be a good idea to stop large-scale deforestation. It is estimated that the destruction of forests for ranching, farming, and timber, accounts for around 10% of global CO2 emissions.
If we could reverse this trend, it might be possible, as some claim, that "better land management could deliver a third of all the carbon cuts the world needs". After all, reforestation is one of the cheapest, easiest, and fastest ways to reduce carbon emissions whilst increasing relative carbon sequestration.
According to the Guardian, "In the past two decades, tree-planting in China, India and South Korea has removed more than 12bn tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere – three times the entire European Union’s annual emissions".
Can we "save the planet"? Or is this a nonsensical question? We'll let you decide.