Essay Title

Interwoven: Nature and Humanity

As I stood on the stairs near Hac Sa Beach, overlooking the brown and murky water filled with waste clusters, sweat trickling down my forehead, I couldn’t help but feel a deep twinge of sorrow. From then on, I have realized the Earth is on the verge of a climate and water pollution calamity. We, as human beings, are dependent on nature for water and food; nevertheless, we are also the ones pushing the world towards the brink of devastating crisis. Despite having set the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations, three of which target nature conservancy, the cessation of global warming and marine pollution deterioration is still beyond reach. Yet, reaching a harmony between nature and humanity is not an impossible mission, as long as everyone is willing to cooperate and partake in planet conservation.


As a consequence of human activities, greenhouse gas emissions have become ubiquitous. In Macau, the burning of fossil fuels for electricity generation, transportation, and industrial activities is the major contributor to the carbon footprint of the city. Carbon dioxide and lethal carbon monoxide under incomplete combustion are expelled into the atmosphere via these processes. On another note, Macau is a densely populated city with limited landfill space, resulting in closely packed garbage in the disposal area, restricting their exposure to oxygen. Simultaneously, an anaerobic (oxygen-deprived) condition is created for the decomposition of organic waste, thereby giving off methane, a potent greenhouse gas that further aggravates atmospheric warming. Intensified global warming causes disastrous impacts on our ecosystems. Not only does it expedite the depletion of biodiversity, but also jeopardizes human health as well as their livelihoods. Owing to elevated heat waves, chances of getting heat-affiliated illnesses (e.g. heatstroke) and mental health problems will arise. Moreover, alterations in weather patterns result in stronger typhoons and more rapid tropical storms, leading to the destruction of infrastructures and transportation disruptions.


On the other hand, human deeds are the main culprit of another inevitable global predicament—aquatic pollution. In Macau, the polluting elements of water include but are not restricted to industrial discharges such as heavy metals and chemicals, oil spills from marine transportation, untreated sewage effluents, and solid wastes from the seashore. Nutrient pollution, though rarely found in Macau, does play a dominant part in water contamination globally. Agricultural runoff adds nutrients, mainly nitrates and phosphates, into the rivers nearby. Subsequently, the growth of algae is stimulated, namely algal bloom, which can provoke marine pollution if the situation is ongoing. In addition to posing risks to human health, the filthy ocean water may deter tourists from visiting. As a city relying on tourism for income, Macau will encounter substantial financial losses under this circumstance.


Unless corresponding measures are adopted to restrain the greenhouse effect and marine pollution from exacerbating, effective mitigations of the two utmost atmospheric matters will hardly be attained by 2030. Advocating sustainable transportation and food options, and environmental organizations are actions, but not the exclusive ones, that individuals should take to combat climate change. By using public transit, carpooling with others, or cycling, the issue of air pollution by private vehicles can be controlled and diminished. In order to assist in the alleviation of the greenhouse effect, opting for organic and plant-based food rather than red meat and processed meat is another prudent approach. This is due to the extra release of greenhouse gases during the production procedures of the meat. Regarding the concern of water pollution, each individual should attempt to make an effort to preserve freshwater resources. Primarily, water conservation practices should be undertaken. For instance, repair water leaks promptly and turn off taps right after use. Besides, individuals should discard trash properly in designated bins to avoid illicit littering, and replace conventional detergents with biodegradable ones. The above methods do not merely minimize the unnecessary consumption of water but also lower the possibility of water contamination via trash runoff and household wastewater discharges. While these are simple steps towards the targets of Sustainable Development Goals thirteen and fourteen, seldom of us or even no one is willing to reach out to the Earth by merely adjusting the habits in our daily lives. That being the case, what can be done to relieve this problem? Communities, especially schools, play an imperative role in environmental education. To disseminate and raise awareness of teenagers in planet preservation, courses relating to nature protection should be integrated into the school curriculum. On top of this, schools are encouraged to establish environmental clubs or committees that hold initiatives like tree-planting and coastal clean-up activities or competitions, with prizes or awards for the participants and winners, to cultivate students’ consciousness of the ecological hurdle their surrounding world is facing nowadays, urging them to take responsible actions. If time allows, a field trip to the United Nations University Institute in Macau can be scheduled for youngsters to gain an in-depth understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals, fostering their recognition of the challenges confronted by the natural world since the pre-industrial era.


Many a little makes a mickle. The current state of our planet will certainly be stabilized with the environmental issues suppressed, on the condition that everyone attempts to make a difference. When I visit the beach again in 2030, I hope I will be gratified by the view I see, with gusts of cool breeze that stir up my nerves.


Photo Reference

Photo by Taryn Elliott:

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