Eating away our life support systems

The Guardian today has yet another warning of the self-destructive impact of humans on their planet. It revisits the planetary boundaries research of the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and emphasises the unprecedented rate of ‘eating away’ that scientists are now recording as economic growth remains the driving force in modern science.

Since 1950 urban populations have increased seven-fold, primary energy use has soared by a factor of five, while the amount of fertiliser used is now eight times higher. The amount of nitrogen entering the oceans has quadrupled.

Will Steffen of the SRC  is quoted:

“We are clearing land, we are degrading land, we introduce feral animals and take the top predators out, we change the marine ecosystem by overfishing – it’s a death by a thousand cuts. That direct impact upon the land is the most important factor right now, even more than climate change.”

On the same day this headline article in the New York Times reported another scientific meta-analysis of research that reveals the extreme effects of human activity under the title “Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction”.

A more extreme press item on the same report is here. It places the blame on 60 years of neo-liberal capitalism and uses rhetorical language such as ‘breaking our planet’.

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