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This version was saved 10 years, 4 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Karen Dougherty
on June 13, 2010 at 9:56:02 pm

Statement of Concern

Please examine my heartfelt but disturbing Statement of Concern that sets my agenda for my thinking on the subject of sustainability. What do you think? How do you feel? Join in a discussion below.



 Human activity has had an apparent effect on the world and its nature.  The most obvious example is the recent gulf oil spill. We have taken natural resources from the earth and used them to damage natural habitats. Besides the man-made disasters, there have been plenty of natural disasters in 2010. The earthquakes, the crazy storms that are causing flooding all over the world, the tornados.  

                But really, have we caused so much harm in the little time we have been on this earth to destroy it? Humans have been around for over one hundred thousand years, but less, way less than a million years. One of the oldest creatures still existing today may be the horseshoe crab, which is approximate 445 million years! Humans are just a bunch of babies compared to the crabs. In fact, humans are just a bunch of babies compared to the earth. Our existence can be measured in a blink of an eye compared to how old the earth is. Did we ruin it in such a short period?

                The end of human existence (No, see my response, below. ~WH) is compelling, interesting, scary, and addicting. Why could it happen, how could it happen? We all hope we don’t see it.  I know the earth will turn into a scary place in the future. I don’t think it’s all because of humans though. But just in case it is, people are at least more aware of the threats human existence is causing to our mother earth. And I believe the natural disasters will only increase concern and awareness. People have to be more concerned for their planet and future generations.

-Kate Burger

Kate, we are not talking about extinction of human population at all. Never said or meant that. Rather, the conditions for life within the Biosphere, the thin mantel of the Earth's surface where life occurs, will deteriorate and carrying capacity will diminish. Thus, human population may (not will) crash. This will not be pretty and will reverse centuries of human flourishing, albeit unevenly. This is what the important article on the Anthropocene that I posted from the course schedule and make available here summarizes. The acceleration in human impact is since 1945, the year I was born, when the human population was 2.3 billion --- now pushing 7 billion. Keep this in perspective, but thanks for the comment. ~WH 6/10/2010


Human beings always seem to have this sense of entitlement and self importance yet we have only been part of this planet for such a short period of time.  I think maybe our short sightedness is from our lack of wisdom due to our youth.  Developmentally we are like teenagers.  We think we are indestructible and nothing we do has consequences.  I hope we grow up fast so we can do something about it.  -Jamie Perone

In brief geological time, humans have come to shape the Biosphere. The metaphor of growing into maturity is a central theme in an interesting new book, Eaarth by Bill McKibben. Like the Gulf spill, in which a probability of zero was assigned to such an accident, we learn too late. Hubris might be replaced with humility. ~WH 6/11/2010


I firmly believe that humans are doing extensive damage to the planet's biosphere. The damage has been ongoing ever since people determined it was their right to use nature and their surroundings to improve the quality of their life without regard for the life already residing in the habitat. While people and technological advancements (such as the Industrial Revolution) have done a great deal of harm to the environment, we (the people) are also capable of reducing our impact on the environment and aiding nature in its self restoration process. Nature will inevitably try to maintain a state of homestasis. The sooner human beings realize that we are the CAUSE AND SOLUTION to the environmental problems we face the more effective we will be in our goals to repair the damages that have been done and prevent the occurance of further damages.

Nici Card 6/13/2010


Population control must become a priority, particularly as the countries with the greatest population growth are often the ones which can least afford it.  In order to achieve this the education of women must become a priority.  Studies show that women who are educated and have choices wait longer to have children, have less children overall, and are less likely to succumb to abuse.  In many societies women are chattel of no value.  Educating and empowering the world's women will go a long way in solving the population crisis, and helping to rectify depletion of the earth's resources.

Karen Dougherty 6/13/10

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