Saving the Earth
Illustration: Eparama Tuibenau

Saving the Earth from global warming... sorry, what?

It is theorized that the true age of the earth is about 4.6 billion years old, formed at about the same time as the rest of our solar system.

The first hominid, related to modern man but with less than one-third of the brain size, evolved about 5 million years ago. Archaic Homo Sapiens, with brains similar in size to modern man, but with larger faces and bodies, first appeared 500,000 years ago. Modern Homo sapiens evolved about 200,000 years ago, which means our species is less than 0.01 percent the earth’s age.

Since its formation, the Earth has gone through many transformations, from its atmosphere (once made by methane, among other compounds) to its geography. Therefore, it is very audacious and pretentious that we (humans) would have the power to destroy our own planet.

The diverse interventions that we do in our own habitat affect our two essential survival elements: Air and water. As a result, in a few hundred years (if we are lucky), the result of our current acts will be the destruction of the human beings on Earth and not the other way around. The life in other forms will continue to exist or will adapt to the new reality (a planet with diverse gases in the atmosphere and temperatures 10-20 centigrade over what we have now).

Just like a malignant tumor, nature uses its own weapons to combat human beings (just like chemotherapy): Typhoons, earthquakes, heavy rains and high temperatures levels, just to name a few.

How would we change that and became a benign tumor instead?

Initially, we have to understand that it is our own responsibility as humans (no matter the color of your skin, creed, country, or place in society) to save our future generations as well as the 6.7 billion people alive today.

Additionally, we must keep protect our environment (included air and water) as well as continuing the “clean innovation” of our technology, in order to hand down to our children a better world than the one we inherited.

The third and last point is to be aware of the wise words of Chief Seattle (a leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Native American tribes in what is now the U.S. state of Washington.) who once said:

"When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned and the last fish is dead we will discover that we can’t eat money”.

There is no magic solution. We, as a unified civilization, have to take responsibility and rethink, recreate and perhaps even more important "react" in order to create a greener Earth for all of us.

Other posts by Flavio Souza:


I really appreciate your article and effort in reaching out in a subtle yet effective manner. Here I would like to point out a very sensitive issue maybe it would bring about a political debate in the long run which I do not intend, rather a conclusive solution is required

The very countries [developed countries] who are making a sincere effort in spreading and taking measures to achieve in downsizing emissions are allowing it's own people to trade [and infact because of the demand the supply will never sieze] with far less developed countries with lesser technologies.

What is the significance of these trade treaties?

From the 1/3 part of land on earth, what are the statictics which fall as land for irrigation and plantation?

What is the value we put in deciding a developed nation? Have we ever thought of putting a clause to a developed nation theory in regards to percentage of land for irrigation and plantation

Spreading a lot of money in advertising and spreading a word - Is that enough?

oh, come on....

A question for you:

If there are natural cycles on which this planet has been and will continue to be, what makes you believe that the climate that we have today is "correct"? It is widely assumed that we are, in fact, in the warm period between two ice ages. It has been said that what now is Manhattan was covered in several hundred feet of ice during the last ice age, certainly not habitable for humans.

So the more interesting question for all is:

Should we as a human race try to change the climate or let the earth run its natural course. And if so, what is the best course?

If we believe that there are cycles of cold and ice, should we INTENTIONALLY warm the planet to prevent such an ice age? Would not having the upper half of the United States covered in ice be bad for our species? What can we do to prevent this calamity?

Or, do you believe that our actions are making the planet too warm, thus melting the ice (over the long haul) and we need to immediately start action to cool the planet?

Recent data suggests that the average temperature has been falling for the last several years, but is that a trend? Why do the climate models that everyone uses to predict warming fail to take into account the impact of clouds?

Take a look at this blog from a climatologist that doesn't buy into the global warming scare.

especially take note of the discussion about clouds and their impact (or lack thereof) on the models

Flavio Souza has written a good article on harms done by human beings to the very place they call their home - the planet earth. Change is inevitable in history. Thus, we see that today's men are far more advanced to exploit nature for their needs. But in that process, something definitely has gone seriously wrong. Greed and satisfaction of our desires have taken priority over common sense. Thus, we are behaving like that stupid farmer who would rather eat the goose that was laying the golden eggs.
A visit to places like Bangladesh, her frequent bout with natural calamities, is enough to make a believer out of anyone who is still doubtful about the harmful effect of global warming. Millions of people are routinely marooned there; the place is slowing going under water. And yet, hardly anything is done to stop this process of global warming. On the top of this misery, India is planning on building dams on international waters that run into the Bay of Bengal via Bangladesh - which is a sure recipe to destroy vegetation, ecology and people's livelihood. Where will all those tens of millions move if man-made disasters and madness are not stopped before it is too late?
But the good thing is -- we have the power to stop our stupidity and victimization of others. But the bad thing is we lack courage and foresightedness to undo our wrongs.
Habib Siddiqui

"Therefore, it is very audacious and pretentious that we (humans) would have the power to destroy our own planet."

Whatever adjectives you wish to use, the important one is that humans have the CAPACITY not necessarily to "destroy" our own planet, but to alter the ENERGY BUDGET greatly enough to cause rapid climate change. (Google Earth's energy budget) The "forcing function" for temperature rise is related (mostly) to exponential increases in carbon transfer from an underground "stored" condition, built-up during the "carboniferous" era, to its dispersal into the atmosphere as CO2. Nature spent about a half a billion years in getting it out of the atmosphere and putting it underground, while we've taken only a couple of hundred to get a lot of it out again and put it back into the atmosphere.

I don't appreciate so much the "tumor" analogy you give for mans presence on the earth--Instead, I would compare it perhaps to a "bacterial" or "bark-beetle" infestation, but there are probably even better analogies.

When rapid climate change (e.g., global melting occurs), sea level rises and some very important and biologically active lowland areas are lost in the long term, and in the short term subject people living in low-lands adjacent to the ocean to all the calamities you describe. There will be less land for man to occupy, farm, and recreate in a world with higher sea levels.

I do agree - too many people on the planet. Are they causing global warming - of course not. The earth is striking back a humans with hurricanes? How childish and arrogant. You are on Mother natures side and know this? Please. Grow up.

There is hard work to do to replace oil energy in the next 50 years, reform agriculture to life without oil based fertilizers, stabilize ocean fisheries, provide employment for the millions of young people who are unemployed all over the world, rebuild transportation systems, on and on.

Worrying about nonsense like anthropogenic global warming misdirects work and effort to the level of witch doctors rather than engineer doctors that will be needed to make a sustainable economic, energy, and food system for the future.

"Are [people] causing global warming - of course not."

Please retract your cranium from the nether regions of your posterior.

While the problem seems huge and giant steps are called for, our governments can help us help ourselves and us all in small and personal ways that can be accomplished economically with minimal impact on our national debt.

Home energy weatherization companies in New England report that many homes and small businesses can be dramatically improved by an investment of under $6,000 to a point that would pay back in 5-8 years at current rate of energy cost inflation and sooner if that cost inflation accelerates.

People are reluctant to spend savings or tap home equity for this due to financial insecurity.

We could create a loan program that would allow them to borrow up to $6,500 from banks through state energy departments that would be marketed by existing insulation companies under the supervision of DOE certified Energy Star home energy raters and would be re-paid through a $50 per month surcharge that would be added to the electric bill equivalent to the energy savings to achieve a zero impact on the family budget and transfer with the property when sold thus not depleting home equity.

Details of this proposal are here:

The National Association of Home Builders has calculated that we have 75 million homes here in the US that are dramatically under-performing and would likely benefit from a program like this. Many small business buildings and light commercial properties could also make use of an opportunity like this and shift wasteful energy cost into productive weatherization investment. Many jobs could be created, energy saved and many baby steps towards mitigating our collective carbon footprint could give us a good start on our journey.

Thanks for asking this provocative question, we all have small and large roles to play in finding the many solutions that are needed.

The real concern is not who is responsible but what do we need to do to survive as a species? At this point, the problem is what will happen to change our way of life and what can we do as a global civilization to mitigate the effects. If we are stuck on labels and blame without action then we will reap the consequences of the blame game and not moving on to action to help make a better future,

There is no doubt in my mind that climate change is a major threat to the wellbeing of our species, and I have equally little doubt that anthropogenic factors have contributed to it. But deforestation, high energy use and increased CO2 emissions are just a natural consequence of our growing population and its demand for a better lifestyle. I am sure that we can do something to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and that we can find ways of adapting to a moderately changed climate, but unless we do something to limit world population in the long term we will never have sustainability. We are currently only dealing with the symptoms of the problem, ultimately we will have to address the cause.

May God bless his soul, the great George Carlin exlains this better than anyone.

Learn from his wisdom:

Mr. Souza has an excellent take on the subject- while the consensus suggests that man-made climate change is the source of our current ecological woes, I too question whether or not human beings have the ability to change the climate to such an amazing degree. That being said, I am in total agreement that even if we are not the cause of the current warming trend, we must act in what is the best interest of current and future human beings and the earth. This means a lifestyle change from one of excess to one of conservation- and also a big change in the way we think.

This is truly an interesting article and information that should cause humans to think. First off, the earth's climate is and will continue to change........this is a fact. Secondly, humans have impacted the natural balance on the planet. Current ecological systems and services are not nearly the same as before the appearance of man (humans). However, with that said, what would the natural changes be to the planet without any human interaction? Basically, no one knows, but we can, with a fairly significant confidence predict that the CO2 levels in the atmosphere would be lower, the pH of the oceans would be higher, ground water levels would be higher, pollutants in the environment would be lower, etc.....!

Now can anyone exactly predict how these changes have "adjusted" the normal changes of the planet, namely climate?? Not sure anyone could prove any hypothesis. It is always easier to predict changes seen based on past data. No different then predicting the outcome of a football game after watching it!

In amy case, whatever pollutants we have created and released ino the ecosystems of the planet are there and real, if we want to work on restoring the environment to the "pre" human era - it is probably not a bad thing to try. Then we pretty much have to adapt to the natural processes froming our environment - whether it is human friendly or not. Only time (geological time) will tell.'s not very rational. for example:

"Just like a malignant tumor, nature uses its own weapons to combat human beings (just like chemotherapy): Typhoons, earthquakes, heavy rains and high temperatures levels, just to name a few."

it's absurd to think like this...that the earth...or god, or whatever is some kind of "force" consciously controlling human population, etc...this is like magical thinking, c'mon..grow up will you!

better to think of it as an equilibrium...self-correcting system.

if there is any dramatic reduction in human population, it won't be with these natural "hand of god" diaster kind of scenarios...

this is the same kind of pathethic human-centric thinking that got us in this situation in the first place.

the more likely scenarion will be a correction via disease, AIDS, influenza, viruses, etc,'s just a matter of time. for example, google the spanish flu(if you're too lazy, it wiped out 1/3 of the worlds population) imagine that happenings in a connected modern world like our own! do the math: 1/3 of ~7 billion people = ~2.3 billion...that's approx the population of china and india combined!!!

that's a little more damage than any earthquake or typhoon could deliver.

it's just a matter of time folks, enjoy the ride. we aren't advanced enough to make it this time around...sorry. i agree that humans are a tumor, though, going about our everday tumor business: to survive.

Thank you for proposing a discussion on this important topic.

In my opinion, we should talk about "Environmental deterioration" instead of "Global warming", because we ought to consider all other factors that are making the earth a less beautiful and less hospitable place to live.

Let's not only focus our minds on CO2, but also on heavy components (Pb, etc.) that are polluting the air, the water, the soils, and even our bodies...

Basically, I think we ought to go "back" (well "forward" to be fair) to traditional agriculture, because we know it works since it has worked for hundreds of years without threatening the environment.

We also ought to think about eating less (or no) meat, because it spoils a lot of food for feeding animals (what pleasure do these poor animals take in life, do they have a "life" in the first place? Can we be happy living from their sad and cruel deaths?).

We have to stop spoiling energy and matter, especially oil under all its forms (for instance the various packages that are increasing in number in our supermarkets).

There is a lot to say about this...

Hi Slyvano!

I was the first one to comment on this article from Flavio, I thought to keep following it since I found it to be a very interesting subject. I went thru your comments and found them very interesting.

The fact that you have bought up this point about animals is something which is extremely close to my heart. I am a member of facebook and I also happened to form a group where I initiated this subject however I didn't have the courage to advertise about this group as I was uncertain about the response.

It would be surprising to know that very rarely would anyone know the life expectancy of a hen. What I found out from sources is that all these people who breed hens and chicks are looking for a buyer just before they complete 6 months of age, as keeping them would mean more consumption of food.

Nobody ever realises or thinks that they have as much of life in them as we do. They are as playful as we are, maybe more. They are such beautiful creatures that one has to live with them to realize a bond with them. We kill and eat them just for a meal.

Don't they have a right to live? Is this a developed world? We call ourselves as human species, but are we really HUMAN??? Is anybody in this world concerned about them???

You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity. Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There's been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away -- all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time.

It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again. The evolutionary process would begin again. Might take a few billion years for life to regain its present variety. Of course, it would be very different from what it is now, but the earth would survive our folly, only we would not. If the ozone layer gets thinner, ultraviolet radiation sears earth, so what? Ultraviolet radiation is good for life. It's powerful energy. It promotes mutation, change. Many forms of life will thrive with more UV radiation. Many others will die out. You think this is the first time that's happened? Think about oxygen. Necessary for life now, but oxygen is actually a metabolic poison, a corrosive glass, like fluorine.

When oxygen was first produced as a waste product by certain plant cells some three billion years ago, it created a crisis for all other life on earth. Those plants were polluting the environment, exhaling a lethal gas. Earth eventually had an atmosphere incompatible with life. Nevertheless, life on earth took care of itself. In the thinking of the human being a hundred years is a long time. Hundred years ago we didn't have cars, airplanes, computers or vaccines. It was a whole different world, but to the earth, a hundred years is nothing. A million years is nothing. This planet lives and breathes on a much vaster scale. We can't imagine its slow and powerful rhythms, and we haven't got the humility to try. We've been residents here for the blink of an eye. If we're gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us. Michael Chrichton