For the first time in history, humans have exceeded the sustaining capacity of Earth's global ecosystems. Our expanding footprint has tremendous momentum. The insidious explosion of human impact today is creating a shockwave that will threaten global ecosystems and their ability to support us for decades - possibly centuries.
"Humanity's Footprint" describes in clear, nontechnical terms the root causes and global environmental effects of certain human behaviors and the steps necessary to curb these practices. It begins by documenting trends in population growth, resource use (economic activity, energy and water consumption, cultivation of croplands), and global environmental impacts (greenhouse effects, ozone depletion, water pollution, species extinctions and introductions) over the last two centuries. Along with well-known examples of impact, like the greenhouse effect, Dodds addresses less familiar developments, such as the spread of antibiotic resistant genes in bacteria and the concentration of pesticides in the Arctic and other remote ecosystems. He identifies fundamental human activities that make an indelible mark on the environment, such as unchecked reproduction and the pursuit of comfort, convenience, and wealth, and draws on recent social science and game theory research to explain why people are conditioned to use more than their share. Dodds warns that as resources grow scarce, humans will escalate their use of what remains instead of managing their consumption.
This book paints a sobering scenario, but Dodds is optimistic that humans will be able to mobilize in the face of these societal threats. This is a planetary self-help book. The hurdles people must overcome are described accurately, as are the actions humanity must take to overcome them.
This book stands out because of its clarity, authenticity, and honesty. Dodds tackles issues with refreshing and impressive courage. -- David Orr, Oberlin College
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