Without human interruption the environment can take care of itself perfectly. There are many complex systems that work together on our planet to balance each other out. Like animal respiration and plant photosynthesis work opposite of each other ensuring that there is enough oxygen and carbon dioxide to support all life. Earth also breaks down all materials, it is just a matter of time. And many plants and animals have evolved with significant biological advantages and defense mechanisms.
Nature has been taking care of itself pretty well up until the industrial revolution in the 18th century. This was a turning point for human consumerism, as it speed up everything humans were doing, thus allowing nature a much shorter time to counterbalance the effects. Even so, it did manage to maintain it’s state for around 200 years without much problems, but nowadays we pumped so much greenhouse gases in our atmosphere that nature can not filter it fast enough anymore. It’s amazing how humans can interfere with nature within a couple of centuries.
The natural environment has developed a pretty impressive network of feedback systems that enable it to regulate itself, in a simlar way to our bodies maintaining a certain chemical and temperature balance for optimal function. There are reinforcing (aka postive) feedback loops and balancing (aka negative) feedback loops. Once you start looking more closely, you begin to see these feedbacks loops throughout nature and many complicated human systems as well, and they are vital to maintaining an adaptive system.
A simple example used to illustrate this concept is daisyworld, and was developed by scientist James Lovelock. Daisyworld is a hypothetical world that orbits the sun and is able to moderate its own environment to maintain cliamtic conditions that are favorable to life (in this case the daisy). You can read more about daisyworld here. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisyworld)
The environment can clearly take care of itself without humans. It did so for many years before. I believe global warming is the environment trying to destroy humans, its disease. Once humans are gone, it can sustain itself once again. Humans are one of its only obstacle to taking care of itself.
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