Some of the wonderful finalists for our climate change essay competition

How Can we Save our Planet?

By Toby Burns

How can we save our planet? This is one of the most commonly asked questions in this day and age, where discussion is rampant. It is tirelessly argued by some of the greatest minds in our society, yet no one can ever seem to agree on this obviously ambiguous question. Every moment of every precious day, this question becomes more urgent and pressing. We need an answer swiftly, we need one now. Yet that seems to often be the attitude. Uncaring. Many in our society loudly proclaim that we must fix this problem yet it’s a lazy, hypocritical comment as they are most often the people that will then shrug this off far-off problem that probably won't affect us (after making sure they are in solitude, of course).We say we care about the environment, yet, in reality, what are we doing to prove this? It's human nature to only start to panic about an upcoming disastrous problem when it's looming over us, staring us in the face with cold intent to do harm. But by then it's usually too late. This is no more evident than in the novel coronavirus that has appeared in the last few months. People know that this will affect them with disastrous consequences, so they act, and the astonishing affects are seen almost immediately. They're staring at it in the face. The entire impact climate change will have in our planet is shrugged off. And later, when the Earth is a desolate wasteland, and people tentatively ask why, we'll be forced to tell them that we were too selfish, small-minded and greedy to act. We have been given a lifetime here, and it's our job to take it. The problem isn't staring us in the face just yet, but the answer is.

The world has changed severely in the last few months, I'm writing this in a surreal scenario I never would have thought possible. I woke this morning to the birds chirping cheerfully in the grey fog, blissfully unaware of the pandemic we’re facing right now. Yet I’m not filled with a sense of depression, but instead flooded with hope. This is an opportunity to change. Coronavirus has changed every miniscule detail of life in Ireland, and the entire world. We have managed to obediently stay cooped up in our homes, keep our streets deserted, and all for the noble cause of saving people. All we have shown is that we are capable of change, and we can make it happen. global warming has been reduced across the entire globe in a matter of weeks because of the changes we made possible. Of course there were challenges, like with global warming, but we overcame them for the greater good! For the first time in years, fish have been seen in the crystal clear canals of Venice, a city plagued with tourism. Pollution is down and this is because if the changes we have made in unity. Several businesses and in my own invaluable experience, school, have been hosting online classes and conferences, keeping things in order. But in my opinion, most importantly, this crisis has taught us that we can no longer take life on our beautiful planet for granted. Denial is not an option anymore and this crisis has shown that.

So, when eventually we are able to leave our homes, embrace loved ones and slowly adjust to normal life, I don’t think it will ever be the same, because it can’t. We have seen the best of humanity here, proving volunteering for valiant clean-ups is something vitally important, and what’s more important than saving our planet?

If people aren’t acting, it’s not because they can’t, but because they refuse to unite against this common cause that will affect all. Borders, race and riches are indifferent to climate change, so we need to act, together. And that is the answer, blatantly obvious. We must fight this together because this is a dilemma that can be solved. We are a democracy, so if we, the people, want change, then we should rapidly get it.

Things like recycling, not travelling as much and conserving water are much simpler than the problems we face today. So, to sum up how we can solve climate change? United we stand, separate we fall, because if we take such extreme measures to fight this crisis, it shouldn’t take much desperate persuasion to convince everyone from the children in our schools being educated on a future that may not exist, to the world leaders we look up to for guidance in times like this to fight the very bane of our existence today, something that could destroy the world. A lifeline has been offered, and we must take it. Now


How We Can Save Our Planet

Unnamed author 

We know our destination. Scientists and the governments refer to it as “Gaia”. It’s located in the Aristotle System, it’s the second farthest from the sun that has been dubbed “Kaynine”, it’s preceded by “Cronus”, then followed by “Cyclops”, “Wyvern”, “Aegis”, “Janus” and “Perseus”.

We have been preparing for our departure for decades now. Ever since Venice became submerged in polluted water, skin and lung cancer becoming more and more common and the Great Oil Spillage of 2043 killed most life in the Pacific. In 2045, work began on “The Hyperion”. In 2061 it was completed.

I am part of the seven-person crew of The Hyperion. We are the people that shall try to survive on Gaia, to test whether it is capable of sustaining human life. The journey shall take the best part of three years, and when we arrive, we will remain on alien soil for ten years. Ten years to see if our race can adapt to the new Gaian way of life. When the ten years have past, the rest of humanity shall come. Up here, you can see the complete tragedy that befell the Earth. The mountains of waste, the seas of plastic, the skys of smog. This is no longer the Blue Planet. This is now the Grey Planet.

Is this going to be our future? Settling on a planet, while killing it in the process, then moving on to the next one. Are we just space parasites travelling from one host to another, infesting all life with our toxins? Is there anything superior or civilised about being a parasite? Because I don’t think so.

I wonder if other travelling life forms will come across the husk of Earth and be curious about what brought the end of it. I wonder if they were planet killers themselves.

Without human interference would the ecosystem of Earth heal or worsen? Would nearly extinct species recover their lost numbers? Eventually, would the temperature of the Earth return to normal without the Ozone Layer? Would the Ice Caps return? Would vegetation swallow the vast areas that were deforested? If left to themselves, would a new species evolve enough to build their own spaceships and come to us and try to avenge the ravaged Earth? Although it would have to take less time for a new smart life form to arise, than for the amount of time the Earth has left before the Sun comes to the end of its life. Would the animals of Earth remember us? Will they tell stories of the departed creature known as man. Would they come to live in our abandoned cities, slowly adapting to the past ways of mankind? Or would they forever ban any interaction with the remains of the Human Empire?

I wonder if that’s how we never came across any life supporting planets before Gaia. Maybe millions of years ago, all planets could support life, until greedy, selfish, arrogant, careless creatures started destroying their own planets and moving on to others, and before you know it, only very few life supporting planets are left.

Is it possible that Gaia may have hosted intelligent life before it became solely plant supporting. And if so how did they come to leave? Did they die off because of natural disasters? Maybe it’s because Gaia hosted life but over time its own creatures ravaged the planet, killing all animal life, leaving only plants, and over time it recovered but only having plant life to occupy the surface, because if it ever hosted animal life, the creatures would become world-killers?

Because of trial and error and the knowledge of our past planet, would Gaia die quicker than the Earth did? As soon as we settle in our new home, are people going to begin setting up foul factories, toxic transport and fatal farming? I hope we can spare Gaia the horrors that befell the Earth.

I think of all that we have built over the past millenniums, that we have left behind. The Statue of Liberty, the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, Newgrange, Mount Rushmore, the Eiffel Tower, the Disney and Universal parks, the Wreck of the Titanic, the Sydney Opera House, the GPO, the White House, the Empire State Building, the Coliseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Big Ben, the Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Arc de Triomphe and London Eye.

These are the thoughts that I think as I stare out of the window of the shuttle, as we depart. Now that we’re starting again, will we do better? Or worse? Has the death of the Earth been in vain? Are we now going to be more careful with how we treat our home? Only time will tell.