Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series
Edited by Michael Bowman, Peter Davies and Edward Goodwin
Chapter 14: Ecological restoration in international biodiversity law: a promising strategy to address our failure to prevent?
Humankind has proved to be very successful in using the natural resources of the earth to ensure sufficient food and material wealth for at least a large part of the population. As explained by Crispin Tickell ‘unlike other animals, we made a jump from being successful to being a runaway success … because of our ability to adapt environments for our own uses in ways that no other animal can match’. Over the last 50 years in particular, we have also become increasingly aware of the darker side of this success: it is clear that not all people have an equal share in this success and we have learned that our activities in a market economy have substantial ‘externalities’. These externalities include the over-exploitation of various natural resources, significant disturbance of ecosystems and severe negative effects on many other species on our planet. As long ago as 1969, the American National Research Council emphasized that humankind is in an extreme time period, characterized by imbalance between development and available natural resources: ‘It now appears that the period of rapid population and industrial growth that has prevailed during the last few centuries, instead of being the normal order of things and capable of continuance into the indefinite future, is actually one of the most abnormal phases of human history.
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