For the first time in history, humans have exceeded the sustaining capacity of Earth's global ecosystems. Our expanding footprint has tremendous momentum, and the insidious explosion of human impact creates a shockwave that threatens ecosystems worldwide for decades-possibly centuries. Walter K. Dodds depicts in clear, nontechnical terms the root causes and global environmental effects of human behavior. He describes trends in population growth, resource use, and global environmental impacts of the past two centuries, such as greenhouse effects, ozone depletion, water pollution, and species extinctions and introductions. Dodds also 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 have irreversible effects on the environment and draws on recent social science and game theory results to explain why people use more than their share. Past behavior indicates that as resources grow scarce, humans will escalate their use of what remains instead of managing their consumption.
Humanity's Footprint paints a lively but ultimately sobering picture of our environmental predicament. Dodds calls for a consilient approach to socioenvironmental restoration that draws on new thinking from across disciplines to develop sustainable solutions to global environmental problems.
Walter K. Dodds is a professor of biology at Kansas State University and the author of Freshwater Ecology: Concepts and Environmental Applications. He researches water quality and aquatic biodiversity, is an investigator at the Konza Prairie Biological Station and leads the Kansas Ecological Forecasting Initiative.
Preface Acknowledgments 1. Collision Course: An Expanding Appetite for Resources Coupled with Population Growth on a Finite Planet 2. The Insidious Explosion: Global Trends in Population Growth and Resource Use Expand Our Footprint 3. Shock Wave from the Insidious Explosion: Momentum of the Human Footprint on Our Planet 4. Weeds and Shrinking Violets: Pests on the Move and the Ecological Holocaust 5. Survival on a Finite Earth: The Ultimate Game, or Why Human Nature Destines Us to Use More Than Our Share 6. Why Humans Foul the Nest: Cultural and Genetic Roots Run Deep 7. Searching for Answers: Can We Achieve Sustainability, or Are We Screwed? 8. No More Business as Usual: Transcendence, Enlightenment, Rationalization, Hope, and Action 9. Consilience: Socioenvironmental Restoration and Sustainable Inhabitation of Earth Appendix 1. Data Sources Used to Make Graphs Appendix 2. Reading the Graphs in This Book Appendix 3. Putting Global Environmental Impact into a Quantitative Framework That Links Impact and Behavior Appendix 4. Some Charitable Organizations Involved with Global Environmental Issues Notes Index