It’s no longer possible to separate the health of the planet from the health of its people. Disease patterns are changing as the climate does, and human health is at risk from loss of biodiversity, depleted water supplies, environmental toxins, and collapsing food systems. From this realisation has come a new research field: planetary health.
Here is the ambitious (and controversial) proposal by E.O. Wilson —arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist— to save life on Earth by setting aside around half the planet in various types of nature reserves. Also included is a research paper exploring the viability of Wilson’s proposal, along with a sharp critique of it.
Daniel O’Neill writes: If everyone on Earth were to lead a good life within our planet’s sustainability limits, the level of resources used to meet basic needs would have to be reduced by a factor of two to six times. These are the sobering findings of our research, recently published in the journal Nature Sustainability.
Recent studies show that those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not. Why? Because, environmental awareness is higher among wealthy people. It’s not attitudes that govern our impacts on the planet, but income. The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions.
From Slate.com: Industrial civilisation’s impact is so massive that it goes way beyond climate change. Earth scientists now suggest that it is creating a distinct geological layer made of ‘technofossils’. The scale of our stuff is so gargantuan, that it is throwing off the quite robust balance of our natural systems—that’s how powerful it is.
John Scales Avery writes in Countercurrents.org: Malthus’ “Essay on The Principle of Population” was one of the first systematic studies of the problem of population in relation to resources. He was the first to stress the fact that, in general, powerful checks operate continuously to keep human populations from increasing beyond their available food supply.
From The Guardian: The chief reason that we’re waking up to our entanglement with the world we’ve been destroying, Timothy Morton says, is our encounter with the reality of hyperobjects –the term he coined to describe things such as ecosystems and black holes, which are “massively distributed in time and space” compared to individual humans.
Richard Reese writes: In ‘Scarcity: Humanity’s Final Chapter?’ Christopher O. Clugston analyses 89 key non-renewable resources that are essential to the existence of our industrial global society, and finds that 63 of them have peaked globally. His conclusion is that the only possible outcome for a society that is dependent on these resources, is collapse.
Lionel Anet writes on Countercurrents.org: The ultimate way to reduce our footprint on the planet is to reduce our population, a near impossible task in any civilisations but particularly capitalist ones. That’s the reason it’s shelved before it’s planned, except for the cruel Chinese example. Nevertheless, it must be done if we are to survive.
CBC News reports: A new report has calculated the total mass of all manmade things-from buildings to cars and computers- to be an astounding 30 trillion tons, seven times more than the total amount of living matter on Earth. It shows the sheer magnitude of the human impact on our planet, which is still growing.
John Bellamy Foster writes in the foreword: It’s capitalism and the alienated global environment it has produced that constitutes our “burning house” today. Mainstream environmentalists have generally chosen to do little more than contemplate it, while flames lick the roof and the entire structure threatens to collapse around them. The point, rather, is to change it.
The Great Acceleration marks the phenomenal growth of the global socio-economic system, the human part of the Earth System. It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change. In little over two generations –or a single lifetime –humanity (or until very recently a small fraction of it) has become a planetary-scale geological force.
Andreas Malm writes: Mainstream climate discourse is positively drenched in references to humanity as such, human nature, the human enterprise, humankind as one big villain driving the train. Enter Naomi Klein, who in ‘This Changes Everything’ lays bare the myriad ways in which capital accumulation pour fuel on the fire now consuming the earth system.
The Guardian reports: Planet Earth has entered a new geological epoch dubbed the Anthropocene because of the extent of humanity’s impact on the planet, according to a group of scientists. An international working group set up to consider the question voted by 30 to three, with two abstentions, that the Anthropocene was real in a geological sense.
Is Gaia becoming Thanatia, a resource exhausted planet? For how long can our high-tech society be sustained in the light of declining mineral ore grades, heavy dependence on un-recycled critical metals and accelerated material dispersion? Thanatia presents a cradle-to-cradle view of Earth’s abiotic resources through a novel approach based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
A new study provides one of the strongest cases yet that Earth has entered a new geological epoch. The question of whether humans’ environmental impact has tipped Earth into an “Anthropocene” – ending the current Holocene which began 12,000 years ago – will be put to the geological body that formally approves such time divisions.
When William R. Catton Jr., American sociologist and author of Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, passed away on January 5th, it went unnoticed by the mainstream media, or even the alternative press. This was expected, too. His work shaped the views of many activists and writers on issues like Peak Oil, resource depletion