Are we killing our planet? If we pollute, litter or dirty the earth, are we killing our planet?

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Technically, the planet can't die.  It is a basically a rock.  We are killing ourselves really.  When we harm the environment, we don't hurt the Earth but we do hurt our ability to live on it.  We're changing the Earth and, in some ways, making it uninhabitable.  The Earth can be destroyed, but it is unlikely that the Earth will be destroyed by something that humans do.  If we keep going the way we are, we will destroy our own ability to survive on this planet.  Thus, we are killing ourselves and not our planet.

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Since the original post specifically mentioned litter, I'd like to point out that, while litter is ugly to look at, picking it up and putting it in a landfill accomplishes nothing for the environment. In fact, it actually has a small negative environmental impact because you use trash bags and you burn fuel to gather the litter and transport it to the landfill. The only way to deal with litter correctly from an environmental sense (other than not doing it) is to sort all the litter and make sure it gets recycled.

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I love the posts in this discussion. I have to agree that we are not "killing" our planet. Earth proves to be far stronger than we are. It is essentially the prime example of survival of the fittest. We, as humans, will succumb to the earth far before we force it to succumb to us (what a great thought enotechris!).

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Long before we succeed in killing the planet the planet will dispassionately kill us.  Earth has been around a long time, long before humankind existed, and will probably exist long after we're gone.  The Geologic record is full species that have come and gone, and humans are no exception (much as though we would like to think we are.)

 

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I like what post 4 has to say about the fact that we're changing the planet and those creatures that survive with the changes will remain and the other will die off. People, animals and the planet change with the changes; but does that mean that we want to live with those changes?  And who determines the consequences of people's choices? I know I can't determine consequences; if I could, I'd decide that everything that we put in the ground disappears and and doesn't change the planet. Maybe it's the fact that we just change the wording to fit what we think we know or how we want to manipulate others to behave.  If someone says, "We're killing the planet," that evokes fear or concern. This motivates me to recycle, for sure. On the other hand, if someone says, "We're changing the planet," that isn't as intimidating and provides some hope.  I will still recycle, but I won't be in as much fear to exist.

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No, we're not killing our planet.  What we are doing is changing it.  It's not like global warming is going to make it unable to support life.  What it will do is to seriously change what kind of life can exist in which places and to seriously change humans' ways of life.  It's not that we won't be able to live, it's that some crops won't grow where they used to and some cities will flood.  We're not killing the planet, just making it less useful for us.

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This question needs to be moved to a Discussion Forum, where I'm sure it will generate a healthy debate. The only question is whether it is more appropriately placed under Science or Social Sciences.

In many ways, humanity is threatening the continued existence of planeet Earth. Pollution is fouling the air we breathe and the water we need in order to live. Climate changes and global warming are real and are going to have increasingly dramatic impacts on the lifestyles of peoples in areas affected by rising water, lengthening periods of drought, and more severe extremes in weather disturbances. An exploding global population is straining resources to produce food and to transport it from areas of production to areas of need.

As a Christian and an optimist, I am not ready to begin planning the Earth's funeral at this time. I pray that we will all wake up and join in the search for better ways to care for this precious world, to find alternatives that won't continue to consume resources that can't be replaced, and to develop attitudes and practices that will allow coming generations to have, if not the same world we have now, at least one that will support life with some degree of comfort and health.

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