Human impact on Earth is so profound and all pervasive that many conclude we have caused a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene or Human Age. We humans, with our world population approaching 9 billion people, have become a geologic change agent. Our technological effects, immense resource consumption, widespread pollution of land and water, vast landscape and climate impacts, and our sheer numbers and ubiquitous presence have altered the entire planet. There remain no parts of the Earth’s landscapes, no body of water, and no wildlife and natural places, that are untouched and unaffected by humankind. No place is so remote not to bear evidence of and impacts by humans. We could even say that nature is no longer “natural.”
There is a growing public awareness of these difficult truths, which are being reported more frequently by our media (though seldom with enough of a sense of urgency). The National Geographic Society for some years has been attempting to raise public awareness in its publications, documentary films, and online articles, including its November 2015 special issue on climate (“Cool It”), which explains that dramatic changes are happening now and will likely accelerate. Without drastic alteration in human practices and behaviors, things will likely get much worse for most of the world’s human and natural communities. One hopes a catastrophic, worldwide “Pearl Harbor” or more Katrinas and Fukushimas will not be needed to wake up humanity to the urgent necessity for an overhaul in our economies and behaviors. Earth is our only home, and for our lasting well-being we had better figure out how to achieve harmony with it. Does humankind have the ability and will to change/ameliorate our Earthwide, oceanic, and atmospheric impacts?
Over 70 years ago, Aldo Leopold wrote, "Conservation, viewed in its entirety, is the slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land." That unfolding continues in our work.
This blog offers views of our Board and partners. We invite your viewpoint on the following thought-provoking questions: