World’s Land Grievously Stressed

Humanity's misuse of land is dangerously shortsighted. Nearly everywhere land is becoming dust as overuse turns once verdant landscapes into deserts. Lands the size of Rhode Island are becoming desert wasteland every year, sending millions of ecological refugees fleeing to greener countries – but few remain with land to spare. Nearly as much American land is covered by concrete as is under wilderness designation. In the continental United States an area the size of Ohio (~43,000 square miles) is covered by impervious surfaces – buildings, roads, parking lots – while natural protected lands cover just a bit larger area (~75,000 square miles). And we know the way this is trending. Paved lands are biological wastelands that impact climate, water and land productivity. If determined by the needs for continental ecological sustainability, protected wildlands would cover a much greater area.
Contemporary society has misjudged risk – the third article below points out that as we fight terror the Planet is crumbling. “While we remain virtually hypnotized by terrorism, humanity is quietly destroying the biosphere in which we live, ourselves and our future along with it.” Every day many more victims die from air and water pollution, to say nothing of poverty, than died on 9/11. Issues of environmental sustainability are deeply rooted in social inequities and injustices. It is made clear that the Earth is approaching a breaking point in our lifetime. Solutions are straightforward — stabilize population, reduce consumption and share wealth. Some $40 billion a year — about what consumers spend on cosmetics — would provide everyone on Earth with clean water, sanitation, health care, adequate nutrition and education. In a globalized world, there is no refuge from those faced with dire need.
The state of the World's land – and by extension its atmosphere, water and oceans – is perilously grave. The rich want more while the poor work to meet basic human needs – in both cases leading to further overuse of land. Where is the outrage as entire swathes of the Earth's land are made uninhabitable? Where are the massive citizen movements and governmental programs to address catastrophic land losses? Is there anybody out there that cares? Land is the bedrock of human existence. A mass back to the land movement that seeks to extract land from the global growth machine while nurturing its restoration and stewardship may be our last best hope. More on this later…

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