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A Visual Guide to Global Trends

Our Relationship With Nature

A Fragile System Sustains Us

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Humanity's progress, particularly since the mid-19th century, has been largely the result of our ability to get and use what planet Earth has to offer. All told, the food we eat, the timber we cut, and the water we draw amounts to an astounding one-third to one-half of global ecosystem production.

But humans are part of nature, and like every other species on the planet, we depend upon healthy ecosystems for our survival. Nature provides us essentials like clean water, food, medicines, even recreational retreats. Intact ecosystems also help regulate our weather and climate.

But these systems are extremely fragile, and we're only now beginning to understand the myriad interactions and interdependencies that sustain them. And we know that once they are gone, there are no replacements.

Changing our behavior and needs to preserve these Earth's ecosystems will be neither easy nor inexpensive. But if we are to feed, clothe, and care for ourselves into the future, taking drastic steps will be essential.

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