"Everything bad that happens to Man is brought on by Man himself, whenever he disobeys the laws of spiritual being and breaks his connection with nature." Anastasia of the Taiga
The thing to notice in the picture is that North America looks like a Desert in 2012. In 1978 North America had much more Forest.
Although trees serve many purposes, they serve three basic functions which make the planet a pleasant place to live. One is that they provide shade and biomass (needles, leaves, etc) for the soil, which prevents the Earth from absorbing too much energy from the sun. If the energy absorbed by the Earth is too great, the re-radiated heat will contribute to the increasing temperature of the atmosphere. Another function of trees (and flora in general) is to process carbon and return oxygen to the air. These two basic functions are required for the survival and health of life on our planet. Of course, they also provide food and homes for various animals.
We must replant all of our forests. We must not allow deforestation and widespread destruction of our ecosystem to continue anywhere on Earth. We must change. All children born and not yet born will suffer greatly and struggle simply to live in the near future as a result of the way we are living right now. In fact in most places on Earth they already are. This might be difficult to believe if you are living in America or another wealthy country, but clean water and cheap food are NOT the world wide norm.
Previous generations in the 20th century have given considerable lip service to the idea that they must leave behind a better world for their children and grandchildren. But instead they competed (and continue to compete) with each other for immediate gain at the expense of people around the world who are not in a position to protect themselves from these competitors. While competition in and of itself is fine, if the outcome is someone else's loss of property or life, then it has damaged society now and in the future. With our current way of exploiting resources, we will wreck the environment for everyone, now and in the future.
People who compete with each other can walk as away friends where no one lost anything. If the Earth was not damaged, and the competitors gained appreciation, experience and greater skill at their competitive endeavor, then their competition can be beneficial. It could be a game or the creation of something beautiful. But, it is essential that it not be at the cost of other people or the environment, and that any material resources used in the process of creation can and will be renewed. Imagine creating a garden, art, music or healing someone with natural herbs, literally resulting in a better world, all without the use of damaging industries.
I have spoken to people over the past few years and have found that very few people want to hear that they are hurting other people just by the common acts they do each day. To have a place to live, cars, computers, appliances, electricity, clean water, fuel, plastics, cloths, food; literally everything in our modern society is causing injury in some way to someone somewhere else and damaging the Earth.
Many people deny it saying, "It isn't true." And when I actually do meet someone who agrees, I am preaching to the choir. They are not the ones who necessarily need to hear what I understand, since they already have an understanding of their own. At best, we have an exchange of information, each learning from the other. We can gain some sense of encouragement and a feeling that we are not alone in seeing this absurd, preventable disaster.
In philosophy there is an idea about a butterfly on the other side of the planet moving it's wings and setting in motion a sequence of events which results in a storm far away. In actuality I consider this example physically unlikely. However, the basic idea is sound, though a butterfly seems an odd choice, since it does not have the capability to adversely affect the environment. We do. We are the only species on the Earth which can adversely change the environment of literally the entire Earth. And we have, whether or not you believe it. If you use anything which uses a resource, you have participated in damaging the Earth. And with billions of people participating, it amounts to a lot of damage, every day.
The only reasonable option is to change how we think and live. We must change our destructive thoughts to non-destructive thoughts, our destructive words to non-destructive words, our destructive actions to non-destructive actions, and pro-actively create life everywhere on Earth, growing new forests, gardens and every kind of genetically unmodified natural plant there is, and allowing all animals and insects to repopulate.
We the people, must come to an independent consensus to safely and peacefully stop all destructive industries, and find other, not merely safer, but completely environmentally friendly ways to have industry without injuring and destroying the Earth. Corporations will not. Governments will not. We must.
It is a forgone conclusion that we are not going to eliminate technology from our lives. But we must use wisdom. We are intelligent. We can create technology which non-destructively coexists with nature, which lasts much longer and does not need to be replaced often, and which does not damage the Earth or hurt people in the process of it's creation, existence or recycling. Nothing should be disposed of in landfills, incinerators or other such destructive systems.
It is probable many industry experts would say this is impossible, and so they would simply give up without sincerely looking for solutions. But what is impossible is that life will continue or ever be healthy while we are on this destructive path. We must change.