chapter  1
13 Pages

Opportunity and Risk

WithValerie Brown, David Ingle Smith, Rob Wiseman, John Handmer

The human species may be half way to ruining our planet – or we may be half way to harnessing its rich resources. In the industrialised countries, at least, we tend to regard the two statements as mutually exclusive. But they are not irreconcilable. In fact, they are both true at the same time. Yet whether we are moving ‘forwards’ or ‘backwards’, progressing or regressing, developing or destroying, is a matter of endless and often angry debate. The protagonists might just as well argue over whether a glass of water is half full or half empty. The conflicting positions hinge on different expectations of exactly the same conditions:

On the one hand, we cannot afford to take risks with the ways in which we manage our environment, since it is the human species’ only habitat. Without it we have no future.

On the other hand, we must make the most of our opportunities to maximise the world’s resources, for our own good and for those who come after us.