We are likely going to always have some negative effects on the environment, but we have done a very good job of addressing specific concerns. For example, the reduction of SOx emissions to drastically cut down on the amount of acid rain we produced or the banning of DDT to help birds such as the Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon. Check out the first link below for some more success stories.
Here’s the thing: humans are always going to be modifying the environment. It’s very difficult to draw a line between “modification” and “damage”. It’s easy to say we shouldn’t cause the extinction of many species via exploitative overhunting — that seems ethically obvious (at least to those of a “green” mindset). But what about wood? We have to damage forests to get it. We need space to build our homes, which is space other animals could have lived in. Humans are ALWAYS going to impact their environment in some way, just like beavers always build dams to create ponds to live in. I think we can learn to live on better terms with nature, and have a more mutualistic dynamic with the world we live in and the other forms of life here, but we’ll never stop “damaging” it in some ways. We’ll hopefully reach a happy medium where we can preserve biodiversity and live in a way which is sustainable.
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