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From Europe to North America into the world and atmosphere: a short review of global footprints and their impacts and predictions

TitleFrom Europe to North America into the world and atmosphere: a short review of global footprints and their impacts and predictions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHuettmann, F
JournalThe Environmentalist
Volume25
Abstract

Humans are now virtually found everywhere inthe world. They changed the global nitrogen and phosphatecycles, create light pollution and affect the soundscapes,even in remote wilderness areas. The destruction of theearth and its original habitat is found on land, in the oceanand now, in the atmosphere. Of note are the big impactsfrom the many small contaminations (e.g., Ott in Soundtruth and corporate myths: the legacy of the Exxon Valdezoil spill. Dragonfly Sisters Press, Cordova, 2005). Theglobal magnitude of this man-made impact is virtuallyunprecedented in human history. Indigenous populationslived within earth’s carrying capacity for easily over10,000 years, and they never caused such global impacts. Itis obvious from most metrics that these problems steeplyincreased during the last 50 years. This suggests that globalprocedures and policies, and arguably driven by westernindustrialized countries, cultures and institutions setting theglobal framework, are affecting sustainability in dramaticways. Based on documented and public sources, here Ishow the brief history, European thought, its globalexpansion, successes and global sustainability failures.There is an inherent and widely acknowledged conflictbetween growing the gross domestic product (GDP) andbiodiversity, and when considering that we all live on onefinite world. Works by Daly, Diamond, Flannery, Shtilmark,Leopold and many others make that already widelyclear. Our land- and seascapes are currently overcommitted.With an increase of the human population of over9 billion people in the next 100 years–-likely earlier–-weare at the very brink of biodiversity and humanity, and ofthe earth as we know it. Business as usual, and purelytechnical and industrial environmental efforts will not helpus, and instead, we need a sustainability reform of institutions,education, funding schemes, cultures and society ifwe want to keep striving, or at least maintain the status quo.

DOI10.1007/s10669-011-9338-5
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