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Craig Miller & Iain Gordon

In: The SAGE Handbook of Environmental Change: Volume 2

Chapter 26: Human Impacts on Terrestrial Biota and Ecosystems

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Human Impacts on Terrestrial Biota and Ecosystems
Human impacts on terrestrial biota and ecosystems
CraigMillerIainGordon
1 Introduction

When human beings evolved, the challenge was survival in a world dominated by systems we could barely influence but that determined how we lived and died. Today the challenges we face are the result of systems that we have created (Sterman, 2002).

In the 3.7-billion-year history of life on Earth only one species, Homo sapiens, has been able to singlehandedly change ecosystem structure, function and condition at a global scale. From humble beginnings in Africa, modern humans have spread to occupy most terrestrial regions of the Earth and, enabled by agriculture, have developed the capacity to move beyond subsistence living to extracting personal wealth from ecosystem services and natural resources. Many human ...

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