Taking steps to better nurture our nature

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By: Annie Sragner, Associate Arts and Life Editor

I caught up with an old friend the other night, and he told me that the Mars One project is planning on sending people to Mars to begin colonization in 2026. With the recent discovery of water on Mars and this mission that is taking place in 11 short years, people are progressing exponentially toward groundbreaking achievements.

We have no idea what could come of sending people to live on another planet, and only through trial and error will we find out. There is so much about the universe that we have already discovered, but it makes me wonder how much we still have to figure out.

Even here on Earth, we still have so many mysteries. It is estimated that 95% of the oceans here are unexplored. All of the knowledge that we have accumulated about freshwater and marine life is only a tiny fraction of what could possibly be down there. Instead of outer space, the oceans are like our “inner space,” and we are still discovering new species down there every year.

One thing that is for sure is that we aren’t being very kind to this mysterious aquatic world around us. Last semester, one of my biology professors told the class that many of the frogs in the Chesapeake Bay are washing up on shore dead because of the conditions of the water. Exorbitant amounts of road salt, fertilizer and other nasty things end up in their environment, and the frogs cannot survive the high salinity we cause.

While most animals consume only what they need to survive, humans use more resources than any other species on Earth. Currently, people use over one million plastic bags per minute worldwide. That adds up to a staggering 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags consumed each year, and only a fraction of those bags are recycled.

Humans generally brush off the guilt of harming our planet because we don’t closely identify with the other species that live here, but they are much more similar to us than we realize.

Bonobos, which are an endangered species of primates from Africa, have recently showed mutations in their genome that allow them to walk upright. Along with chimpanzees, these apes are the closest living relative to humans. They even have sex for fun.

The world and all of its inhabitants are changing and evolving around us faster than we realize. What will the future bring?  Only time will tell what comes of those here today.

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