I had to drive out to the airport yesterday, and I pulled off the road to take the above picture.
This is a picture of the essentials of life -- air, water, and food. There's a lot of air, only a little water, and hardly any food. We depend on all three to live, as does every other living thing on the planet.
We are poisoning all three at an accelerating rate.
In the past, we poisoned them for short time scales that were easily reversed. Now we are poisoning them for very long time scales that could be considered irreversible. For example, the primary components of the continuously leaking Fukushima radiation are Caesium-137 and Strontium-90. With half-lives of around 30 years, these biologically active poisons will stick around in the environment for some 450 years (about 15 half-lives) even if we manage to stop them today, which we apparently can't. Although 450 years is not exactly permanent, the genetic effects probably will be.
Even worse is the depleted uranium we use with wild abandon for armor-piercing munitions in our endless wars. With a half-life of 4.5 billion years, the resulting depleted uranium dust will remain in the environment for 67 billion years. Considering that the age of our planet is the same as the half-life of depleted uranium, that could be considered permanent. And unlike the three Fukushima melt-downs that spew radiation continuously, we could stop the release of depleted uranium into our environment today, if we were smart.
But we're not smart.
Unfit species go extinct. Guess where we're heading? Unfortunately, we may take nearly the entire planetary ecosystem with us, including the millions of other species we share the planet with.
That would make Homo sapiens the greatest traitor to the concept of life that this planet has seen in all of recorded history.
Is that our legacy?