Imagine an earth that's too hot, an ocean that's acid, constantly covered in a mist of hydrogen sulphide gases that are poisonous to human life.

Human cities laid to waste, covered with fungal growths, abandoned buildings, crumbling, the world colored in a sepia hue from the poison clouds that cover the surface of the planet.

All life wiped out. Utter silence and desolation, as far as the eye can see.

Dystopian, isn't it?

That's where we're headed.

The Root of the Problem

Ever since we've started extracting oil and using coal from beneath of our feet to fuel the growth of our cities, we have started turning the geological clock back. Ancient forests and microorganisms at the beginning of our planet's life made it habitable by fixing atmospheric carbon, helping develop conditions that were conducive to higher forms of life.

It took millennia for the earth to fix atmospheric carbon levels through ancient forests beneath the ground, dying. These forests were covered by the earth and, over time, many layers of soil covered the primitive landscapes of old. Biological materials thus trapped below ground in conditions of increased pressure and temperatures became the coal, oil and natural gas – the fossil fuels that we consume today.

When we burn these carbon-based organic compounds we release the carbon back into the atmosphere. If we were doing it in limited quantities and in small numbers it, perhaps, would not have mattered, but to scale up our cities we are extracting ungodly amounts of these natural resources and consuming them at an unsustainable rate.

An Unsustainable Future

Our rampant consumption of natural resources makes a huge difference. Depleting natural stores of these organic compounds through combustion is changing how weather behaves, increasing temperatures, causing ocean acidification leading to massive extinction of biodiversity as we shift the gradient of survivable condition ranges for a staggeringly large number of animal and plant species, including, ultimately, ourselves.

We have inadvertently, through our desire to grow and expand, become an engine of extinction. Just as the chicxulub meteorite killed the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period, we, too, have become just such an agent of death and destruction.

The need of the hour is for individuals, for you and me, to look hard at this growing problem and ask ourselves seriously if we care for this planet. If we care that our future generations have a world filled with plants and animals and breathable air, if we care for the continuation of our species.

The End of Fossil Fuels

The world's natural reserves of oil and coal are diminishing; there will come a time when all the resources present below ground will be depleted. Imagine what will happen to our cities then, imagine that tomorrow, when you wake up, there's no fuel to drive your car, there's no fuel to power the factories that produce items of necessity and convenience, that are required to keep civilization running smoothly.

Fixing the Problem

Our best solution to get out of the hole we've dug is to immediately focus on switching to sources of energy that are sustainable and friendly to the environment. That is not all. We will need to fix the problems we've caused by consuming fossil fuels. There are many scientists working on developing technologies to fix atmospheric carbon back into the ground. These technologies need to be refined and activated at a global scale to reverse the death clock we have, in our ignorance, set into motion.

Unless we stop using fossil fuels, and fix the damage we have caused by abusing them, this planet will soon become unsuitable for habitation, and we would be marked into history as the cause of the ultimate extinction event that wiped out all life on planet earth.