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By Oliver Cunningham (Chief Commercial Officer at RanMarine Technologies)
Scientists have named this epoch the Anthropocene – after humans, in recognition of our impact on this planet.
We are now in Planet Earth’s sixth major extinction, but this one’s different. The rate at which species are disappearing is approximately 1,000 times the normal background rate.
Marine phytoplankton is a cornerstone of the planetary food chain, accounting for roughly half of Earth’s photosynthetic biomass. Since 1950 phytoplankton biomass has declined by 40% and the rate of this decline is increasing. The world’s population of vertebrates has declined by 58% since 1970. By the end of this century 20% to 50% of all living species on this planet will be gone.
“Our planet is being transformed, not by
natural events, but by the actions of one
species: mankind.” – David Attenborough
The correlation between human population growth and biodiversity decline is eye-catching. Also interesting is the rate of urbanization – humans are moving into, and building new, cities faster than ever. Check the chart at the top of this piece.
So we’re overpopulated, right? Well, maybe not. Here’s Sir David again:
“We are not overpopulated in an absolute
sense; we’ve got the technology for 10 billion,
probably 15 billion, people to live on this
planet and live good lives. What we haven’t
done is developed our technology.”
As ecosystems break up, the number of species in those ecosystems declines. Small “islands of nature” are too small to support a stable number of interconnected species. And smaller populations are more vulnerable to random events. To maintain a thriving biodiversity, we need “oceans of nature” instead.
So perhaps nature reserves are not the answer. We actually need the opposite – humanity reserves. We need our cities to be nests: small, densely populated clusters of human life and happiness. This will:
Minimize the real estate that humans occupy
Which will maximize the real estate available for nature to regenerate
And maximize the efficiency of our energy consumption
Thus speeding up the renewal of resources that we consume so unsustainably
“It is not the strongest of the species that
survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one
that is most responsive to change.” – Charles
Harnessing Smart City technology is the critical enabler in this. Drones that can work 24/7 all around us, sharing information and basing their decisions on continuously updated data, are just one example of such tech. This is what will enable us to live in close proximity with one another without sacrificing comfort.
OLIVER CUNNINGHAM is a sci-fi geek and futurist. He makes drones that swim around cities, eating marine plastic and keeping our seas beautiful.
Sources: International Commission on Stratigraphy; WWF Living Planet Index; The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert; The Macroscope by Joël de Rosnay
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