Seventy thousand years ago, a species consisting of scattered populations of no more than a few hundred individuals lived – for the most part, peacefully – in a corner of Africa. Today, this species numbers eight billion and is fundamentally changing the planet. We are this species.
The emissions of greenhouse gases and the depletion of biodiversity for which we are responsible have occurred in a miniscule amount of time when set against the earth’s long history. Yet they are so extensive that they will affect our planet on a geological time scale of many hundreds of thousands of years.
For this reason, Dag O. Hessen doesn’t mince his words. Drawing exclusively on hard research and avoiding sensational scaremongering, he lays out just how the natural world and the climate are faring today – and how bad things can still get. The greatest risk to our planet comes from various feedback mechanisms that could amplify already occurring changes.
Yet human culture is also constantly changing. Could our culture, here and now, also be at a turning point? Will we be able to turn the tide in time to avert worst-case outcomes? This book makes a powerful argument that we have to do more – and above all, that we have to do it faster.