In reaction to the growing challenges posed by global environmental change, author and Harvard Divinity School writer-in-residence Terry Tempest Williams and Sam Myers, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health principal research scientist and Planetary Health Alliance director, have launched the Constellation Project.
This new collaboration includes the Planetary Health Alliance, Harvard Divinity School, the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Center for the Environment, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School. Together, the participants hope to ignite interdisciplinary, community-based conversation around fundamental questions — about our place in the world, our relationship with and reverence for nature, our “beautiful, breaking planet,” home.
“Consider these facts,” Myers and Tempest Williams write in their description of the Constellation Project, “to feed ourselves, we annually appropriate about 40 percent of Earth’s land surface for pastures and croplands. We use about half of the planet’s accessible fresh water to irrigate our crops; and we exploit 90 percent of global fisheries at, or beyond, their maximum sustainable limits.
“In the process, we have cut down half of the world’s forests and dammed more than 60 percent of its rivers. The quality of air, water, and land is diminishing around the world because of global pollution. Our production of greenhouse gases is changing Earth’s climate. These and other processes are driving species to extinction while the numbers of individual mammals, fishes, birds, reptiles, and amphibians have fallen by half in the past 45 years. We are holding nature under siege.”
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