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Planet Earth and Humanity

  • Herman Verstappen (a1)

Abstract

The earth, a futility in space, is the only home for all humans and, at present, the theatre of the globalization of our society. Humanity has always been wondering about the origin of our blue planet. This is rather irrelevant for everyday life however. What really matters is that all of us can live in harmony and diversity on ‘Mother Earth’ and preserve our environment for future generations. Our planet is inhabited by an amazing variety of living creatures, among which at present are 7 billion humans. This number has risen at an alarming rate for more than a century and will reach the 10 billion mark around the year 2100. But whether the earth resources can cope with the growing demands is most uncertain. What will be our common future? This global issue has been the focus of the Reports of the so-called Club of Rome, 1 the Brundtland Report, 2 etc, but the responses of society are as yet inadequate. Science and technology can now unravel the many subtle interrelations between geosphere, atmosphere and biosphere and monitor the worldwide growing impact of human activities on the environment. 3 Earth observation from aerospace and geo-information systems have opened new vistas in this field. It is evident that there are limits to growth and that the present ‘rape of the earth’ should be stopped and a master plan for global sustainability be made. This plan should not be imposed top-down but be rooted in our free will and thus have a polycentric structure. The political agenda for globalization should not be a flywheel for economic growth but be oriented to the tripartite: sustainability–social balance–economic requirements. Can we make this happen?

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