Among the many creatures that have lived on this planet, humans are unique in that they not only tamed the wild and created large urban societies, but increasingly we are having an impact on the very fabric of the earth itself – and it’s not always for the better.
When it comes to the ‘human planet’ we hear all sorts of things, many of them foreboding and some even seemingly contradictory – like there is too little space, too much development, that the population is exploding and the natural environment slowly dying, but also that the population is greying, that we’re not having enough children to replace ourselves.
We consume and pollute too much, we are/are not contributing to global warming, that there is no global warming, that we will all have to work to 70 and beyond yet artificial intelligence will take our jobs away. We’re depleting the earth’s resources, that there will be land and water wars to replace today’s oil wars, that there is unemployment yet the labour force is shrinking.
More immigration means economic growth but also more unemployment, and occasionally even that decades of overpopulation and over-exploitation have taken us to the cusp of a demographic collapse brought on by environmental decay and epidemics.
That’s heavy stuff. What’s more, we have been hearing much of it for decades, from the early conservation messages of Jacques Cousteau and the World Wildlife Fund to disturbing images of starvation and the mass displacement of people following war, dictatorships, famines and civil strife…
Words Michel Cruz