The author Kurt Vonnegut recently said, “We are not nice animals, and the Earth’s immune system is trying to shake us off.” How many future generations of humans will the beleaguered Earth be able to sustain?

Jonathan Amos reports for BBC News that our planet is under incredible pressure, and unlike similar periods in the past, this time most of it is man-made. The problem is the way we obtain and use the Earth?s resources. Over a thousand futurists from 95 nations have spent 4 years compiling a report. Some of the things they?ve discovered are: 60% of world ecosystem services have been degraded, 20% of corals have been lost in only 20 years; dead zones, where no fish can live, are increasing in coastal waters, and the extinction of species is now 1,000 times greater than normal.

Jonathan Lash, of the World Resources Institute, says that humans have changed most of the world?s ecosystems beyond recognition in the last 50 years. This has to do with the way we grow and fish for food and obtain fresh water, as well as our cutting down forests for building materials and fuel. When we obtain fuel, we pollute the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.

What can we do about this besides having to return to a caveman style of living? Futurists don’t have these answers for us, but they do say that the pace of scientific research that will find solutions to these problems needs to increase. In the meantime, according to this report, “Any progress achieved in addressing the goals of poverty and hunger eradication, improved health, and environmental protection is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem ‘services’ on which humanity relies continue to be degraded.”

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