The appearance of man would change the planet forever. It was a complex species capable of interpreting its surroundings in a way no other species had ever done. The natural world became an enemy to be defeated. Intelligence compensated for the lack of claws and fangs, permitting the production of weapons. Man became a fearsome hunter.
Our species soon became fascinated with power. It was no longer enough to simply obtain food.
Now, man had power over life and death. And killing without need became one of our distinguishing traits.
In their relentless search for well-being, human beings achieved tremendous successes. Obtaining food from hunting and gathering meant periods of shortage, permanent movement and dependency on the climate and the seasons. So the domestication of wild animals proved a brilliant solution to overcome the problem, allowing them to remain in the same place for as long as they liked.
Man became sedentary and learnt to cultivate the land from which he would obtain so much food that he could store the surplus for consumption during the unproductive months.
Every year, the world population grows faster, occupying the last refuges of an increasingly over-exploited nature. From the first natural caves where our ancestors found shelter, man has progressively conquered new territories. Intelligence enabled him to alter his surroundings to meet his needs, and our species expanded spectacularly, exponentially, unstoppably.
We have changed our natural surroundings in such a way that we now could no longer live there. We have become dependent on our world of metal, plastic and glass, where energy provides us with heat, protection and safety. But in order to achieve it, we are destroying the world.
-We have become an agent of extinction just as devastating as the drift of continents or the impact of meteorites. But we are doing it at a speed thousands of times greater. And we have already seen that life needs time in order to be able to absorb changes, but geological time – in other words, a great deal of time.
The consequences of our actions have become global ecological problems. We are changing the climate of the entire earth and the first signs can be seen where we might least expect it.
Species are becoming extinct at a speed never before known in the history of the earth. 10,000 times faster, in fact, than the speed at which new species are born.
We are the cause of the sixth massive extinction, an extinction that is taking place today, right now.
Scientists calculate that in the next one hundred years half of all the living beings on the planet will be in danger of extinction. A ridiculously short period on the scale of extinctions, where time is measured in millions of years.
Many people have undertaken the urgent task of reversing the process of extinction we have unleashed. And every day more volunteers join the cause.
We live on a magical planet, marked by the gift of life. And though we believe ourselves to be so important and powerful, seen on a global scale, with the perspective of millions of years, we are no more than an ephemeral, crazy species that is flouting all the rules.
The Earth has already survived changes similar to those we are bringing about, massive extinctions that led to the disappearance of 95% of all species. It, therefore, will survive all this alarming damage. And life, almost certainly, will return to the Earth. But unless we are capable of avoiding it, our species, like the dinosaurs, the marsupial tigers or the ichthyosauruses, will be merely a memory of an insignificant instant in the long life of the planet Earth.