Introduction

Life is subject to continuous co-evolution with its environment. While planet Earth provides the conditions that permits life to exist, life itself alters these conditions. This process regularly involves the extinction of species—to date there have been no less than 5 mass such extinctions. The present—day question is: “Does humanity sit on a branch of life that will continue to evolve, or on an unsuccessful branch of evolution?” Further, to what extent do we settle our own fate? Humans cannot live directly by consuming rocks, water, and sunlight, but depend on an elaborate and well-balanced biosystem, containing a diversity of fauna, flora, and plenty of microorganisms.

This balance is under threat due Earth’s limited resources and increased pollution as a result of present-day human activities unchecked. Not only do we need to be concerned about the disappearance of many of our fellow creatures from the face of Earth, but we also see an unprecedented growth of the human population. How much pressure on the ecosystem do we exert by raising population levels from 3 billion in 1960 to about 8 billion now and further rising, and can this be sustained by the finite resources of planet Earth and the processes that ultimately keep us alive? Where would this growth need to be stopped? Current estimate suggests that population growth may reach as high 14 billion within 30 years. This raises another burgeoning question: “What damage has already been caused by present-day population level and can that be mitigated?”

 

At NoRCEL Blue Earth Project, we are therefore questioning: “What challenges does the rise in global human population pose for the future of humanity by changing the ecology and environment of our home planet Earth?”. To address this, we will host a one-day forum taking place on 8 January 2022, involving experts shining light on this issue from various perspectives.