HUMANITY’S CONNECTION TO THE NATURAL WORLD
Education, job experience and personal observation resulted in intensifying my desire for an in depth understanding of the complexity the natural world. Interest in my wife’s Native American heritage and Native traditional knowledge, amplified my desire for further understanding of the similarity between forest systems and human systems. The similarities soon activated the realization of the complex relationships designed into the evolutionary processes that created Earth. The biological processes and relationships provided the basis for identifying and understanding forest communities, and the similarity these communities shared with human communities.
The science of forestry provided an excellent basis for understanding the in-depth story of creation, key elements that sustain human and non-human life systems, the destructive impacts humans are having on the natural world and insight into humanity’s destiny. Personal experiences and observations, I have been privileged to participate in, have provided the basis for the following conclusions.
The adverse impacts humans have bestowed on the natural world began 12,000 years ago when our species converted to an agricultural society. The destruction of Earth systems was gradual for thousands of years, but the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago, significantly accelerated the destruction process. Scientific data solidifies the truth about our current Earth state, and supports the conclusion that the two dominant environmental issues, we face worldwide, are population expansion and deforestation.
Global warming, atmospheric greenhouse gases and climate change are the result of the two major issues, and will require a worldwide approach to find realistic solutions.
Our worldwide population has now reached seven and three quarter billion people and the world population will continue to increase by seventy-five million annually. Although, birth rates in developed countries have slowed, the fastest growing age group is the 90-plus. Humanity’s increasing demand for resources, since the mid 1800’s, has been stressing Earth’s ability to supply. Scientific projections predict the carrying capacity of our planet is in the vicinity of 10 billion people, and the U.S. Census Bureau predicts we will reach 10 billion in just 30 years. Time for action is slipping away!
Our scientific community has assembled data that provides excellent insight into the story of creation and understanding of the natural world. We have discovered almost 10 million unique species of organisms, with 99 percent being plants and only 1 percent animals, which includes humans. Eighty percent of all life on Earth, requires forests for survival, with tropical forests storing 50 percent of atmospheric carbon dioxide while producing 30 percent of the required oxygen.
Seventy percent of Earth’s land base was once covered with trees; however, humans have reduced worldwide forest cover to 28 percent today. Deforestation is second only to burning fossil fuels, in causing climate change, and is a major contributor to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The “Industrial Revolution” established the leading Nation on planet Earth, but at what cost? In addition to the environmental issues we face worldwide, we have alienated ourselves from the natural world we depend upon for life. Today, 81 percent of The United States population live in congested urban cities, and believe advanced technology will provide for our future needs. Science and technology cannot manufacture and provide the basic elements required to sustain life systems on our planet! These basic elements were specifically designed into the creation of Earth and are finite. Once used up, they will never be available again.
Only the insistence of the citizens will provide the incentive to change the future. Do we insist on a better future, or are we prepared to sit by and fiddle while Earth burns?