Industrial Revolution Anthropocentrism and the Biosphere Degradation

Industrial revolution unequivocally established an anthro-pocentric ideology in the human-nature relations. Humans placed themselves at the center of the biosphere, giving it a role of a huge pantry from which it is possible to extract resources beyond all bounds and, in return, store resulting waste. From the point of view of preservation of the global ecosystem, such relations are unpromising. Calculations show that the twenty-first century will see the exhaustion of many kinds of natural resources of our planet with perhaps unrealistic expectations that further technological advances and economic growth will open up new vistas for solving environmental problems.

Environmental degradation in the latter part of the twentieth century reached global scales. Notwithstanding that about US$ 1.2 billion was spent over the 20 years between the UN conferences in Stockholm (1972) and Rio de Janeiro (1992) on environmental protection, the state of the Earth's environment was worsening. Industrial development that should have strengthened economic advances went into contradiction with the environment

Table 3 Human-disturbed terrestrial ecosystems (not including glaciers and bare lands)

Partly

Totally

Undisturbed

undisturbed

disturbed

Land area

area

areas

area

134904471 km2

27%

36.7%

36.3%

since it failed to take into account real limits to biosphere sustainability. Two opposite trends prevail in the global economy: gross world income is growing while the global wealth (first of all, life-supporting resources) is shrinking.

Industrial revolution has led to further pressure of technically and technologically equipped humans on the environment and has created conditions for a new ecological crisis. The consequences of such processes are hard to predict. It is clear that the coming crisis will essentially differ from the previous crises.

Data on disturbed ecosystems is also given in Table 3.

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