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Five Global Threats to the Ecosystem and Life on
Planet Earth, part 2

Will we humans turn out to be "too clever by half," doubling our technical ability at the same time we reduce our common sense to the level of, say, a typical sitcom character? In the end, will the lame joke be on us, and will the laugh track be the only one left laughing?

In the last Eco-Logical, we offered five areas where man was fiddling around in things that have the potential to destroy life on the planet. In many future Eco-Logicals, we'll address these and related issues more in-depth, but today we'll rattle off some bird's-eye-view solutions...

1. Nuclear War — Halting nuclear proliferation is critical. Keeping non-nuclear countries nuke-free is an important goal, and countries that already have nuclear weapons or energy plants should begin a meaningful de-emphasis of this most deadly technology. Given the nuclear-waste problem on top of the general melt-the-world possibility, nuclear is simply a technology we should figure out how to live without.

2. Deterioration of the Ozone Layer — Progress has been made on reducing the use of ozone-depleting substances in industrialized countries, but much remains to be done globally. Where alternatives exist, all nations must be pressured to use them instead of their ozone-depleting counterparts. For applications areas where no substitutes currently exist, deadlines must be set for phase-out of ozone-depleting substances anyway—that will force industry to develop the needed solutions.

3. Global Warming — We're VERY far from real solutions on this one. Even the Kyoto treaty on global warming—which the US declined to be a part of—set goals that fall far short of what's really needed to reverse the global warming trend. Ignoring the problem only digs the hole deeper and makes the long-term danger greater. picture of a rainforest We must reduce—and eventually eliminate—the use of fossil fuels. If nothing else, we should immediately begin to migrate to the cleanest possible versions of fossil-fuel technologies.

4. Degradation of the Web of Life — "Better living through chemistry" is highly oversold. We've seen the good side: the plastic wonder-goods, the seemingly beneficial bug-killers, gadgets for everything you can imagine. But the byproducts and side-effects of the BILLIONS of pounds of chemicals that are being dumped into our environment each year are taking their toll on air quality, water quality, wildlife, and us. We need a fundamental reassessment of how we use chemicals in industry and in our everyday lives. In addition, the web of life is under increasing pressure due to habitat loss and species extinction. We need to reformulate our approach to natural spaces and increase our tolerance of all living things so that the complicated biological machine that supports us humans—earth—keeps functioning correctly.

5. Biotech — The new vogue in science is to see what cool creepy critters you can djin up in a test tube. These genetically modified plants and animals are advertised to be stronger, faster, and more likely to leap adversity in a single bound. And none of them have undergone the necessary long-term testing to see whether their super-mutant properties could ultimately prove to be a problem.

We're at a difficult cross-roads. The comforts of modern life seem a blessing, but the slimy underbelly of it and the skeletons in the closet are poised to come home to roost like some horribly mixed Frankenmetaphor. But don't despair—the solutions are there. We just have to work together to achieve them.

Publish date: 23-OCT-2003

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Songs for a Better Planet

Calling Earth and still no one has heard
The simple message of its words:
From the Zone 804
In peace, not war,
We come to restore
Your planet...

Song: "Zone 804"

Artist: Peter Schilling

Album: The Different Story (World Of Lust And Crime)

Category: Rock/Pop



Was Fox Mulder right; are there aliens out there who want to take over the planet? Or does Peter Schilling's "Zone 804" have it right; that there are aliens out there who can help us fix the sad state of the planet? Time will tell. In the meantime, Schilling's album "The Different Story" is something cool to listen to, and includes Schilling's 1985 space classic, "Major Tom (Coming Home)." All together now: "Four, three, two, one... Earth below us, drifting, falling..."

Read reviews,
hear clips,
or get purchase info for this album at

See more Songs for a Better Planet

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"The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard."

— Gaylord Nelson,
former governor of Wisconsin, founder of Earth Day


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