I just learned of something I had never heard of before - the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - which is a location that has highly elevated amounts of plastic particulate hanging in the water.
They aren't sure just how big it is, because it cannot be clearly seen from satellite or even from the deck of a boat - the water has to be tested for how much plastic is floating in it. Estimates range up to be larger than the landmass of the US - this isn't a puddle somewhere with 10 dissolved plastic bottles in it, it is an area of sea that is vast and heavily polluted.
For a very long time there have been jokes about baby seals and about the permanent smog cloud that covers LA, so much so that I don't think many people recognize any longer just how serious these issues are. If they are brought up enough and made light of enough, we'll just accept them as the way it is and just keep right on doing what we are doing.
This is a HUGE problem. Millions of people have no idea what the true impact of their daily activities are on the planet - and as the media would have it, they never will! It is a fact that any garbage we throw away is more than humans should be producing - everything we discard should be biodegradable and compostable, and we should be composting it to renew our soils.
Instead, we blindly go about our business as if nothing is wrong, burdening the planet with ton after ton after ton of non-biodegradable plastics and trash that could be recycled into new products to feed mankind's ever growing need for stuff.
As if it wasn't bad enough that we buy disposable products, companies put millions of dollars and hours of effort into creating packaging that has no true use - sure, it gets our attention, tells us about the product and - in theory - protects it until we purchase it, but really it is designed to go to the trash heap.
If the designers have done their job well, it goes to the trash as soon as possible because the faster it sells the more success it has had.
The answers are all so simple: Mankind was never meant to do what we do. Any end of the world scenario that falls upon us... it's our own doing and that fact is inescapable. It's too late at this point to undo the damage which has been done - but it is never too late to stop heaping more damage on top of it. Our current efforts towards environmental repair/conservation are futile at best.
What the Earth needs to be healthy is for humans to give up their highly technological and wasteful society and return to the most simplistic way of life we have ever known - nomadic wanderers who hunt and gather and have no wordly posessions. Yes, we'd have to give up each and every single benefit of our modern lives... but considering the damage we have done, how can we feel that we deserve those benefits?