The global ecological threat is apparent in numerous known and unknown phenomena to the extent that we are on an extinction curve, more pronounced than at any time since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
The world has been converted in an instant of time from a wild natural state, to one in which human beings one of an estimated 10 million species of organisms are consuming, wasting, or diverting an estimated 45% of the total net biological productivity on land, and using more than half of the renewable fresh water. In a matter of a hundred years, we have altered substantially the characteristics of the land, the freshwaters of the Earth, and the seas. We are driving a major proportion of the species which are fundamental for our continued existence, to extinction.
Given these, a new term, Anthropocene, is specifically proposed and used for the
very latest part of modern history involving significant human impact.
The Anthropocene Epoch has begun, according to a group of experts assembled at
the International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa in August 2016.
The Anthropocene Epoch is thought to have begun in the 1950s, when human
activity, namely rapid industrialization and nuclear activity, set global systems on a
different trajectory. And there's evidence in the geographic record. Indeed, scientists
say that nuclear bomb testing, industrial agriculture, human-caused global warming,
and the proliferation of plastic across the globe have so profoundly altered the planet
that it is time to declare the 11,700 - year Holocene over.
Changes to the Earth system that characterize the Anthropocene Epoch include
marked acceleration to rates of erosion and sedimentation; large-scale chemical
perturbations to the cycles of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other elements; the
inception of significant change to global climate and sea level; and biotic changes
such as unprecedented levels of species invasions across the Earth. Many of these
changes are geologically long-lasting, and some are effectively irreversible.
Economic, Social and Political State of Affairs.
Economics and Politics
Despite numerous UN environmental conferences, we are still far from the prevention of a global ecological economic and political problems which affect billions of people. At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal. The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.
We currently live in a global political system, which has changed from the polarisation of USA vs USSR to a monopolar order completed after September 11th 2001. The monopolar system is not sustainable by definition. The process which is known today as globalisation is a mono-polarisation. A genuine globalisation is the transformation of our globalised world to a cooperative, united, human family.
Our world faces a global threat - the danger of ecological catastrophe, which threatens equally every human being, every nation and every social group. The contradictory interests of a multitude of cultures and nations often camouflage and confuse the problems we are facing, because the information is not available through the mass-media.
Water Scarcity and Sanitation
Enviornment & Resources
Two and a half billion people live without access to improved sanitation and hygiene facilities, 1 billion currently defecate in the open and 748 million live without safe drinking water. The world may have 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions, but only 4.5 billion people have access to a toilet. (UNEP)
Over 2.6 billion people do not have access to toilets and other adequate sanitation facilities. This lack of access is a primary cause of water contamination and waterborne diseases. (UN Habitat)
This is a silent health emergency of enormous proportions. But the challenge is not only a moral one. Sanitation and hygiene are engines that drive health, social and economic development, and contribute to a cleaner environment.
From an urban perspective, and especially in the developing world, challenges related to water and sanitation will magnify in the future due to an ever growing city population. (UN Habitat)
By 2050, the number of countries facing water stress or scarcity could rise to 54, with a combined population of four billion people - about 40% of the projected global population of 9.4 billion. (Gardner-Outlaw and Engleman, 1997; UNFPA, 1997)
Sixth Phase Extinction of Biodiversity
Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years, as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, invasive species,and climate change.
In1993, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson estimated that Earth is currently losing something on the order of 30,000 species per year — which breaks down to the even more daunting statistic of some three species per hour.
This explosion of human population, especially in the post-Industrial Revolution years of the past two centuries, coupled with the unequal distribution and consumption of wealth on the planet, is the underlying cause of the Sixth Extinction. (Palaeontologist Dr. Niles Eldredge)
Climate change alone is expected to threaten with extinction approximately one quarter or more of all species on land by the year 2050, surpassing even habitat loss as the biggest threat to life on land. Species in the oceans and in fresh water are also at great risk from climate change. (The Sixth Extinction by Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin)
The Military Industrial Complex
The Greatest Threat
No threat is greater than the threat of nuclear war. There are still between 14,000 nuclear warheads in the world today - enough to destroy 60 times the Earth's population. In addition to India and Pakistan, 15 to 20 developing countries will have nuclear capability in the next 10 years.
For a fracture of arms spending, (almost $2 Trillion Dollars annually), sanitation and clean water could be supplied to all the deprived peoples of the world. Wide spread diseases could be prevented and schooling and medicine provided.
The global military complex which has emerged for the defence of nations and people has become more dangerous that the threat it should prevent. If only a fraction of the financial and scientific resources it consumes were used to prevent the potential ecological catastrophe a sustainable civilisation could be built.
The Medical System
Domination of The Pharmaceutical Industry
The domination of the pharmaceutical industry in the health system ignores nutritional, environmental, preventative and lifestyle management of illness through health promotion. Due to inequities in global health care, a child dies of avoidable disease every three seconds. The global community faces morbidity from of AIDS, a resurgence of other infectious diseases such as Hepatitis, and Malaria, particularly in the developing world.
In the developing world, the leading infectious causes of death are respiratory tract infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS, which together represent >90% of causes of death. The remaining 10% are due to tropical diseases and various other infections.
The developed world is faced with cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
The Consumptive Society
Modern society with its excessive emphasis on commercial return, economic growth, wealth and material success, subordinates and distorts peoples minds, mentalities and ultimately, real needs. The people are victims of surrogate values and needs forced on them by informational and economic sub-systems of society.
Our survival has to be seen from on overview of planetary sustainability and transboundary environmental issues. The old system that says we have to dominate, cultivate fear, and exploit in order to survive, is no longer tenable.
A positive change in new world outlook requires the cultivation of genuine human values and the acknowledgement of the interconnectedness and interdependence between humans, the natural environment and the Universe. The cultivation of Self knowledge, self esteem and spiritual growth, would lead paradoxically to a reallocation of consumer resources, conservation of nature and new, more sustainable, technological and scientific advances.
A Global Crisis of Social Values
The global crisis is symptomatic of the inadequacies of our social values. Ethical and moral value systems have not evolved properly to keep up the balance with our growing material needs and technological inventiveness. We are living through a civilisation crisis in which only a profound social epiphany leading to a paradigmatic shift, unlike any other in history, can save us from total self destruction.
The environmental problems that we face are because humankind does not see itself as a species, whose role is as a subsystem of the biosphere. Humanity's role is, in our opinion, to develop a deep understanding and wisdom based on our alignment with the Universal Laws and the co-evolution of human society with nature.
Our basic requirement is for ecological peace and health which means a complete shift of the paradigm involving science, education and health to a complete understanding of humanity and its relationship with the cosmos.