For decades, environmentalists have stressed that the solution to Earth’s environmental problems required humans to move out of cities and back to nature. However, many environmentalists today are suggesting that we, as humans, should embrace cities and leave nature alone. Today, cities cover around 1-3% of the Earth’s ice-free surface, with farms taking up almost 40%. Cities allow humans to use energy more efficiently, while also freeing up room for nature and wildlife. Cities have also served to reduce the size of the world’s population. As more and more people move to cities, it is no longer necessary for farmers to have more children to work on the farm. Scientists believe that the human population will peak at 9-11 billion before declining.
As people begin moving into the city, farmers that stay in the countryside have to produce more food with less land. There is a modernization of agriculture that is underway in the United States that is also bringing on reforestation in certain parts of the country. A great example of this reforestation is New England, which has seen forested land in the state jump from 30% in the 1800s to 80% today. Another reason for this reforestation in the U.S., as well as other rich countries, is a decreasing dependence on wood for fuel in these countries. We have created substitutes for wood such as hydroelectric dams and fossil power plants. This has drastically decreased deforestation. Although countries like the U.S. are decreasing wood usage, there are still 2 billion people worldwide who still rely on wood and dung as their primary source of energy. These same people also rely on low-yield subsistence agriculture and wildlife harvesting for food. This has created issues, as an estimated 4 million die every year from inhaling smoke from burning wood and dung. Relying on this wood and wildlife for energy causes forests to be ravaged in these countries.
Although fossil fuels and modern agriculture practices contribute to air and water pollution, and global warming, it is important to not forget the good they do for the environment. Creating a better environment for the future will require a switch to cleaner energy sources, such as nuclear and solar energy, that use fewer natural resources. Additionally, in order to keep up with the modernization of agriculture, farmers will need better seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and things such as vertical greenhouses and laboratory meat that make us less reliant on land and water for food growth. In short, we need to leave nature alone. This is an easy way to spur wildlife growth and create a better environment for the future.