The 99%

The time period we’re living through is commonly referred to as the Anthropocene. Others refer to it as the Capitalocene. These terms encapsulate the fact that the present is a time in which human actions and dominant human systems, respectively, are dramatically altering the Earth system.

The planetary boundaries framework makes the extent of the alterations soberingly apparent. Created by scientists in 2009, the framework identifies nine key operating systems of the Earth, along with the safe boundaries for each in terms of change and modification.

According to researchers, we’ve already transgressed six of the nine planetary boundaries, including massively breaching the safe limit of biosphere integrity, aka biodiversity loss.

Astonishingly, our species is having this impact despite making up only 0.01% of life on Earth. In terms of the planet’s biomass, plants, such as trees, dominate, and bacteria come in at a distant second. Together with fungi, single-celled microbes and other teeny organisms, these two groups make up over 99% of the Earth’s life.

Featured images by Cassandra Scott via Ocean Image (above) and The Ocean Agency / Ocean Image Bank (below)

Like most species, humans are not one homogenized mass. The attitudes and behaviours of different sections of the 0.01% towards the rest of the natural world vary, as do their effects.

There’s the 1% of the 0.01%, namely the political and corporate elite. The actions and behaviours of this section through time have played a major part in the world reaching this dangerous precipice. There’s also the 5%. This figure relates to the approximate number of Indigenous Peoples in the global human population. They play a key role in protecting ecosystems, with their territories holding up to 80% of the world’s forest biodiversity.

“Was it not the duty of those who were called muckrakers to rake up the good earth as well as the noxious? Was there not as much driving force in a good example as in an evil one?”

– Ida Tarbell, author of The History of the Standard Oil Company

Reporting on the interconnected environmental crises

The climate crisis. The biodiversity crisis. The pollution crisis. The ocean crisis.

Actions and decisions by the 0.01% – in the past and the present – are a driving force, for better and worse, in this interconnected mass of emergencies. 

Here are some examples of the reporting I’ve done on various aspects of these crises.