REALITY CHECK | EndGame2050
We’ve all seen sci-fi movies.
Even if we’re not fans, we know the common scenario: x years in the future, Earth is struggling in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, people desperate for food, clean water… and hope.
It’s a pretty grim portrayal of a would-be future Earth, but just how far is it from reality, or at least, one potential reality?
EndGame2050 - a new free documentary available on Youtube - extrapolates our current circumstances, bridging the time gap to that dystopian future.
The film begins with a fictional story set in 2050. A rapidly-warming planet battles with food and water rationing, a fishless ocean, increasingly-frequent subterranean methane explosions and a population with little or no hope.
It’s a bleak depiction of a world only 29 years away, but is it a likely outcome for our ailing planet?
Physician turned environmentalist, Sofia Pineda Ochoa has delved deep into the research, taking all aspects of our environmental impact into account. Over the 70 minutes following the short film, she takes six key aspects of impact, explaining what they are, why they occur and how, perhaps, we can avert their impending impact.
Our human impact upon the planet has already brought about the world’s sixth mass extinction, wiping out as much as 50 per cent of the world’s plant and animal species. These epochal moments have taken place over billions of years as part of a natural ebb and flow, but only now, in the present day, has a mass extinction been actively caused by anything other than the environment. When the industrial revolution began 270 years ago, humankind firmly planted its foot upon the accelerator of destruction. Expansion, consumption and pollution grew exponentially, doubling within a lifetime, then half a lifetime, then a quarter, and so on. It’s a path that cannot continue without dire consequences, but we can take our foot off the pedal, and even apply the brakes.
Lifestyle shifts, global consciousness and new technologies can combine to halt this change, and even reverse it and the best news is that all of those things already exist - the better lifestyles, the greater awareness and the technology. They just need to be adopted en masse.
Through emissions, deforestation and other factors, we have drastically increased the global levels of CO₂. The ocean is one of our primary CO₂ sponges, keeping global warming in check, but with levels increasingly rising, the ocean simply can’t cope and it is leading to ocean acidification.
Shelled sea life, including corals, shellfish and crustaceans, is suffering greatly, the increased acidity slowly dissolving their shells, disrupting breeding cycles and diminishing populations.
But ocean acidification affects us too. The ocean is responsible for 50 per cent of the world’s oxygen. Tiny phytoplankton act just like trees, absorbing CO₂, releasing oxygen and helping life exist. Acidic seas are destroying the phytoplankton, effectively slowly suffocating the world.
Reforestation and a move away from fossil fuels and a meat-rich diet can begin the reversal of the acidification, and the subsequent increase in phytoplankton stock can slowly bring it back to a healthy level.
FISHLESS PLASTIC OCEANS
Our incessant commercial fishing habits and over-production of plastics is pushing ocean life to the brink of extinction. More and more, fish, ocean mammals and seabirds are being documented with guts filled with plastic, leading a slow and painful to starvation.
Technology has also led to the industry’s ability to dredge every scrap of life from the oceans, and between the two, fish colonies are collapsing. Through seafood of all kinds, we then consume these plastics, along with heavy metals such as mercury, with a shocking impact upon our health.
By living more sustainably, reducing single-use plastics, eliminating the threat of discarded plastic fishing nets and significantly reducing or stopping our intake of seafood, we can support a healthier ocean that will continue to grow, recover and even thrive once more.
HUMAN POPULATION GROWTH
Every single week, 1,000,000 new people come into this world. Better birth safety and improved aged care are supporting and prolonging life, with larger families also adding to the problem. The world’s population is currently using up about one and a half times the resources that the world can provide. In the US, that number is over five times - we would literally need five Planet Earths to sustain ourselves in consumption at the current rate, and that’s with a frozen population growth.
The obvious solution is to reduce our birth rate, but imposing population control is something that no one wants, including those in power. Conscious, responsible parenthood is vital, as is our awareness of consumption. Food, clothing, technology and more is created and consumed excessively, especially in the western world, and we need to curb this in order to better sustain the resources we do have before we don’t have them anymore.
As already mentioned, our consumption is leading to planetary collapse. Industry, transport and, more than anything else, animal agriculture are all impacting our climate. Increased global warming increases many of the previous factors and is the fifth gear to our accelerating crisis.
Becoming vegan is the single greatest, and simplest, action we can take to alleviate emissions and ease climate change. Investing our money in renewable energy companies and demanding businesses step up to their responsibilities can initiate a change that can, even at this late stage, bring the climate crisis under control.
If we continue eating what we eat at the rate we are, we will need double the amount of food we now produce by 2050. The way we’re going, this simply isn’t possible, but by addressing our diets, we can eat completely sustainably and with huge health benefits. And, you guessed it, there’s one way we can accomplish this today.
Almost 40% of our crops go into animal feed. This seems crazy, but what is even worse is the huge amount of deforestation this causes, how much fresh water it uses up and how little we actually get out of it. Raising an animal produces ten times’ less food than it uses, and that food is also less efficient. 30 calories of plants produce just one calorie of meat for us, or to flip that on its head, we could be 30 times more nourished by the food we waste by feeding to livestock.
If the world went vegan, we would reduce arable land by a staggering 75% - that’s the equivalent landmass of the US, China, Australia and the whole of Europe… combined. Even minimizing our intake of animal products could drastically slow this steaming freight train.
Clean energy is amazing. Stopping single-use plastics and switching to sustainable materials is incredible. Considering the planetary impact of your daily purchases and actions, as well as planning parenthood responsibly can have lasting benefits.
But beyond all of those, and far quicker, easier and much, much more effective is switching to a plant-based lifestyle. It is the single greatest thing - by a long way - that can help save the world.
You are here, you are reading this and, quite possibly, you have already made this connection and gone vegan, or at least reduced your meat intake. Now it is your turn to educate. Share EndGame2050, share other documentaries, share recipes and health tips and your experiences with others.
Alone we can make an incredible impact; together we can change the world… literally.