Aug 31 • 1HR 11M

Overshooting Earth's Boundaries | Bill Rees

What we've done to the planet

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Rachel Donald
Planet: Critical is the podcast for a world in crisis. We face severe climate, energy, economic and political breakdown. Journalist Rachel Donald interviews those confronting the crisis, revealing what's really going on—and what needs to be done.
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“Half of the fossil fuels ever used on planet Earth by human beings has been consumed in just the last 35 years. This is the power of exponential growth. So hugely important things have happened in 50 years, including the first book that warned us of limits to growth. We've seen the evidence before the US Congress on Climate Change. We've had 27 COP meetings on climate change, a half a dozen formal agreements to reduce carbon emissions. There's been several formal scientists’ warning to humanities. This has all taken place in the last 50 years.

“Yet, during that past 50 years, the pace of negative change has accelerated. So, despite the best of our science, despite the best evidence you can possibly come up with in terms of climate activity and so on and so forth, the mainstream has not budged.”


Humankind’s footprint threatens to squash life under its heel.

Our impact on the planet cannot be understated. We have thrust Earth into a new geological period, destroyed the majority of the world’s wildlife, razed her forests, and rendered innumerable species extinct. We are expert consumers with no limits to our appetite, it seems. Unless the climate becomes so unstable our own systems break down. This, of course, is what we’re already seeing.

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Bill Rees, bio-ecologist, ecological economist, and originator of the ecological footprint analysis, joins me to discuss this breakdown—how we got here, where we’re going, and why he has little hope for humankind to make it through. We discuss systems change, potential outcomes, and how to create “lifeboats” in a crisis. We also go head-to-head on the framing of some of these issues before finding common ground towards the end of the episode.

© Rachel Donald

Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription.