A debate has been already doing the rounds that 2012 will be the last year in the history of Planet Earth. While some say there is truth in the claim made by an ancient Mayan calender, others refuse to believe it, say this is some sort of media-created hype.
However, a recent study by scientists airing caution about the planet's future, has put the 'fatalists' ahead of the 'non-believers'. The scientists have pointed out simple but real facts that are likely to push the earth to the brink and not any absurd and abrupt force ending its journey. 2012 may not be the end, but the end could be not very further, either.
According to the team, the ever-increasing population on the planet will lead to a situation where all resources, living or non-living, that support our survival will be exhausted. Extinction of species and over usage of vital resources like water, land and forest will lead to unpredictable outcomes on a gigantic scale not seen in the last 12,000 years or so. The claim has been established in leading science journal Nature.
Earth scientist at the University of California, Anthony D Barnosky has expressed fear that the earth might be a different place from what it is now, by the end of the 21st century. He, along with other scientists from various other countries, have conducted study on climate change and the state of the earth's ecology to get an understanding of the future consequences.
The scientists have shown how a shrinking biodiversity is affecting the planet's ecosystems and how the developed world's nature of voracious consumption is worsening the situation all the more. Vital flora and fauna are disappearing fast, which would threaten food (and hence socio-political) and environmental security of human race.
The most recent example of the earth undergoing the transition was the last glacial period. The planet was transformed from being 30 per cent ice-covered to its nearly ice-free condition of today within a span of 3,000 years. Most of the ecological transitions in the earth occurred in the last 1,600 years but currently the human inhabitants are engineering changes faster than the natural process and it is a recipe for a bigger disaster, the scientists have said.
Industrialisation and urbanisation have also proved baneful for earth's survival. Barnosky said the global temperature is rising at a rate much faster than what it did during the era of Industrial Revolution while endless drive for urbanization has transformed over 40 per cent of the Earth's land surface, which is more than what it was at the end of the last glacial era.
But what cane be the possible consequence of such overstretched changes? The scientists have said it is difficult to make accurate predictions on the matter. Based on the transitions which had occurred in the past, they can only predict loss of species and ecological damage, which will make it extremely difficult for human beings to survive.
Political stalemate will also work against the human survival on earth. If all people across the globe do not reach a serious consensus on the future of the earth's survival by ensuring sustainability, then disaster in terms of political instability will engulf all, no matter what the financial status of a nation is. The onslaught of neo-liberal forces, if continue unregulated, will turn 50 per cent of the earth's surface into business ground in another 15 years, something which does not indicate at a good future.
Sustainable development is the watchword for today's earth. We can not arrest multiplication of human population it seems and hence the only way out of a worrying future is in improve efficiency for sustainability. That calls for conservation of resources and greater emphasis on renewable resources.
The earth is at the crossroads. It is now our responsibility to protect our homes.