Peru. Photo Prochalen on PIxabay
Humanity began in the Biosphere as a small and weak lifeform. Yet supported by the balance, dynamic processes and resources of the Biosphere, Humanity grew stronger.
The last millennium (1000 to 2000) was an era of human innovation, that began in Europe and spread around the world. Humanity began to impact nature. Yet up to the 19th Century (1800 to 1900) the impact was generally local, and few species were forced into extinction. But the 20th Century (1900 to 2000) was a “game changer.” Human activity began to impact the Biosphere.
Photo: Vladimir Kudinov on Unsplash
Photo: Heiko Janowski on Unsplash
“Humanity lived in symbiosis with the Biosphere … now it is a parasite … not seeming to know that a parasite will harm its host”
When it was weak, Humanity lived in symbiosis with the Biosphere – it gave back benefits for what it received. Now Humanity is a parasite. It takes too much from the Biosphere, without compensating for benefits received. Not seeming to know that a parasite will harm its host.
There are two reasons why Humanity went from symbiotic to parasitic:
- a tremendous increase in Humanity’s power; based on science, engineering and organization; and this made possible the following;
- a world culture focused on immediate needs and desires; not on the health of the Biosphere; not on the long-term survival of Humanity.
Humanity needs to live sustainably, by using only the resources it needs to live well and leaving the rest for the Biosphere and its own future. As humans we need to understand:
- we depend completely on the Biosphere, and
- we must revert from a parasitic to a symbiotic relationship with the Biosphere.
“World culture need to change … away from immediate needs and desires, to a world Culture of Sustainability”
World culture needs to change. It needs to be refocused away from immediate needs and desires, to a world Culture of Sustainability. This will support the Biosphere’s resilience to human actions. Humanity and the Biosphere will operate in balance. As Carl Folke expressed it in Ecology and Society [https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol21/iss4/art44/], we need “… adaptive social-ecological systems .. in tune with the resilience of the Biosphere.”
Since 1968, Science has focused ever more strongly on ways to conserve the Biosphere. That year saw the formation of both: the Club of Rome and UNESCO’S Biosphere Conference that created the international MAB (Man and Biosphere) Program. Ongoing science work from both of these events – and many other initiatives – continues.
“To change world culture, we need to apply new methods, such as the Biosphere Eco-City approach”
Yet, as Karl Folke explained (2nd paragraph above), the missing part of the solution relates to culture, not science. To change world culture, we need to apply new methods, such as the Biosphere Eco-City approach, to engage everyone in sustainability.
We can help protect the Biosphere by making changes towards sustainability and integrating them into our normal activities. We can help build a needed Culture of Sustainability.