Considering the Future

Anticipating the need for ecological restoration

Authored by: Young D. Choi

Routledge Handbook of Ecological and Environmental Restoration

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138922129
eBook ISBN: 9781315685977
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315685977.ch2

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Abstract

Many of the Earth’s natural characters have been altered or lost due to human development during the Anthropocene. To meet the demands of resource consumption for an ever-increasing human population and welfare, more than 60 per cent of the Earth’s lands have already been converted or modified for human use (Hurtt et al. 2006), oceans have been subjected to exploitation of resources and pollution (Lotze et al. 2006), and the composition of atmospheric gases has been altered greatly with no or very little sign for reversing these changes. Human population growth, although slowing in recent decades, is still expected to grow at least for most of this century. Our continued expansion of our ecological footprint will only exacerbate the depletion of the Earth’s natural capital. Moreover, the alterations in biogeochemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen and other elements have led to drastic changes in the environment for air, land and water quality (MA 2005; Clewell and Aronson 2007; Finzi et al. 2011). With these changes, it is not certain whether the Earth can keep evolving, stocking natural capital, and providing ecosystem services as it did before the appearance of industrial age Homo sapiens.

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