Like all species, humans are dependent on a healthy environment. If we despoil it, we suffer or die. Entire civilizations have vanished because they wrecked some essential part of their environment. On a lesser scale, serious long-term economic damage has frequently happened as the result of short-sighted exploitation of the environment. Think floods and dustbowls created by deforestation and poor farming methods, or fisheries wiped out by overfishing, pollution, and the destruction of wetlands.
On the other hand, we humans have been transforming our environment in intentional and unintentional ways since our distant ancestors discovered fire. There is no way we can have a global industrial civilization with 9 or 10 billion people without having profound effects on the natural world. The question is whether we can arrive at a technological base for our economy that allows for a reasonable standard of living without doing irreparable harm to the environment.
Part 1: The environmental tug-of-war
Part 2: The dangers of climate change
Part 3: The climate “controversy”
Part 4: Other environmental threats
Part 5: Interactions – the Environment