Earth Stewardship: Sustainability strategies for a rapidly changing planet

By Arnaud Sepulchre

For thousands of years, humanity has been altering its environment to its needs and the environment has been adapting to these changes. But how  strong is the planet’s resilience and how long do we have before the irreversible  occurs? The world’s challenge towards environmental sustainability is becoming omnipresent. People often think that a sustainable system is a static system; on the contrary, the concept of sustainability implies a dynamic balance between relative rates of resource consumption and replenishment.

Prof. F. Stuart Chapin introduced us to the principle of Earth Stewardship as a social-ecological change to enhance ecosystem resilience and long-term human welfare. The achievement of this challenge involves a broadened ecology spectrum and integrates it with other sources of knowledge and understanding to stimulate new interactions and partnerships. Moreover, an interdisciplinary approach beyond economics incentives is the key towards behavioural sustainable change and pro-environmental attitudes.

Since more than 48% of the population lives in urban areas and that percentage is expected to rise to 60% by 2030, human beings are losing contact with the natural world. The increasing amount of youngster growing up in urban areas, the lack of a “free range” childhood and deprivation of real contact with nature has led people to be indifferent and distant towards their natural environment. Without an immediate behavioural change towards the awareness of our environment, such ignorance en masse will provoke a collective indifference which in time will go beyond Planet Earth ’s resilience threshold leading to mass destruction.

Although people are part of the problem, they are also part of the solution. The fate of our ecosystems and the plants, animals and people that depends on them are entirely dependent on us and our actions. The world, in all its smallest parts, is a delicately balanced generator of life which we must respect.

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