Our world is changing faster than at any time in human history, as a result of our own actions. To support a rapidly and unsustainably growing population and develop our economies we are consuming ever-greater quantities of natural resources and making physical changes to the Earth that would have been unthinkable even a few generations ago. There have, of course, been some positive outcomes, including a reduction in overall levels of poverty. But, of course, at the same time, we are seeing many things that give grave cause for concern, including the loss of degradation of natural environments and a changing climate.
We only have one planet to sustain our existence, so it couldn’t be more important that we all have good information about the real consequences of human impacts on our life-support system. Only by understanding what is actually happening can we make good decisions, both personally and collectively, about what needs to be done to ensure that we can survive and flourish.
We know that human activity is, however inadvertently, placing unprecedented pressures on natural systems and causing a daunting list of environmental and social problems. Increasing demand for food, energy and water is in many places leading to deforestation, damage to marine environments, pollution, desertification, and the loss of wild species on a massive scale.
I think many people know, in their hearts, that this cannot be right, or sustainable, but the facts that lie behind these and a plethora of other important trends that affect our existence are hard to find. Debates between entrenched vested interests generate more heat than light and discourage innocent inquiry.
In truth, a huge mass of data and insight is available, indeed far more than ever before. It is collected by scientists and specialist agencies and regularly update, but it tend to be either hidden in technical reports or presented with jargon, acronyms and seemingly disconnected statistics that make little sense to many of us.
I think we all need to see and understand this information. That includes young people still at school, executives running companies and even experts in particular fields who sometimes don’t have time to see summaries of findings from their counterparts working in other fields. We also need to understand the connections between seemingly disparate trends, such as the impact of deforestation on rainfall and the consequences of accumulated plastics in the oceans. – HRH The Prince of Wales, Excerpt from book: WHAT’S REALLY HAPPENING TO OUR PLANET? – THE FACTS SIMPLY EXPLAINED – Tony Juniper