On Humanity and the Biosphere

Yuji Ishiguro | February 20, 2020 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF

The biosphere of the Earth is unique in the universe as far as we know. Humanity is a small part of it and can exist only in the healthy biosphere in which she evolved. 

Humanity could continue her existence indefinitely in peace, if she respects the principles and restrictions of nature, instead of insisting on impossible ideals, ravaging the planet and constantly waging wars. With her demonstrated ability she could build a utopian civilization but, instead, adopted competitions and wars so that small groups of people could reap all the wealth of the planet. 

Throughout human history, nations were destroyed and recreated. But the biosphere, once destroyed, cannot be recreated, nor will it re-evolve, not in human timescales. 

Humanity has damaged the planet and the continuity of her existence is uncertain. But, perhaps, it may still be possible, if she changes her ways. 

Every species that appears on Earth must find a proper place in accordance with the principles and restrictions of the biosphere. Then it can prosper indefinitely. Humanity is yet to find her proper place. In order to maintain the healthy biosphere, the equilibrium in the systems of the Earth must be maintained and for that we humans need to acknowledge the principles and restrictions of nature. 

A fundamental principle is the constancy of population of every species at a level determined by the biosphere: humanity cannot increase her population beyond the limit of nature. If equality is to be respected, the number of children per couple must be two in principle. 

Another principle or restriction is that the material consumption and the emission of wastes of human activities must be within the limits of the productive, reprocessing and regulating capacities of nature. 

The extinguished species will not reemerge, carbon dioxide will stay in the air and plastics will be scattered in the seas and oceans. Humanity cannot expect the Earth to recover in human timescales, though in some millions of years the Earth will recover, the air and the oceans will be clean again, and another biosphere will evolve. 

The only way humanity can continue her existence now is to adopt the ways of nature, avoid worsening the situation and adapt to the changed world. But, today, even knowing what is happening in the world, humanity continues in the same destructive ways, with all the predictable consequences. Deluding herself by repeating feel-good rituals, such as the Declaration of Human Rights, Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the elimination of plastic straws, humanity will bring an end to the civilization. 

The history of the Earth shows that species can prosper and evolve for tens of millions of years. Homo sapiens seems to be the only species that would knowingly destroy its own habitats and perish after a short period, an instant in geologic timescales. 

Man can now manipulate photons, electrons and atoms and understand the size, structure and basic functioning of the universe but does not know the small system on which his life depends. Humanity needs to wake up to see the seriousness of the situation and change her ways. 

Here I cite a passage from the memoir of Valery Legasov: 

To be a scientist is to be naïve. We are so focused on our search for truth, we fail to consider how few actually want us to find it. But it is always there, whether we see it or not, whether we choose to or not. The truth doesn’t care about our needs or wants. It doesn’t care about our governments, our ideologies, our religions. It will lie in wait for all time. And this, at last, is the gift of Chernobyl. Where I once would fear the cost of truth, now I only ask: What is the cost of lies?

Returning to our subject, I say that the cost of wishful denials will be the end of the civilization, possibly of humanity. 

Humanity has shown her remarkable ability in science and technology and built a high civilization but apparently is not wise enough to save herself. The high civilization is limited to small parts of the world and it cannot be extended to the whole world, nor can it be continued indefinitely. The consequence would be a global conflict and the destruction of the biosphere. It is a pity that humanity is destroying this unique biosphere and herself, though it does not matter at all to the universe. 

The universe is infinite in space and time, and possibly in energy and materials. Science estimates two trillion galaxies in the visible part of the universe, each containing hundreds of billions of stars. In this vast universe the Earth is the only place blessed with an infinitely improbable phenomenon called life. If humanity manages to continue her existence, science will someday find the origins of the human mind and of the energy in the universe. Humanity should value this existence. 


The necessary measures will be hard to accept for most people, as they have been conditioned for so long in the traditional ways. I maintain some hope that concerned people in the wide fields of science will come together in time and assure a peaceful future for humanity. 

To members of MAHB 

I appeal to you to look beyond the boundary of the system because there is no solution in the system. Humanity is still living in the same wrong way with the same aspirations, beliefs and ideas about the world as in the time of living in the wild infinite world, herded into a pit by small groups of people, but the situation is changed and it cannot be continued. We need to leap out of the pit of taboos (such as religion, population control), impossible ideals (human rights, sustainable development, free procreation), wishful denials (global warming, finiteness of the Earth), and baseless beliefs in deliverance (technology, investment, landfills, mine tailings). 

Solution (1) 

For several decades now the problems have been on the global political and science stages but all the efforts have been futile because they were confined within the system. The most basic question is whether humanity opts for the continuity of all the peoples of the world or will let the current system continue and await whatever comes. 

For the first option, the first step will be the recognition that the current system needs to be changed. But there is no painless solution and, despite the frequent widespread protests, I am not sure if the people will agree to fertility control, death penalty and all the other necessary measures. I cite here some of them. 

  • Population: the first step will be the adoption of two-child limit, but this has to be strengthened by other measures. 
  • Crime, anger, hatred: death penalty needs to be adopted worldwide. If it is clearly defined and executed with rigor, many crimes will vanish and the people’s anger and hatred at the system, inequity and corruption will be alleviated. If someone commits a crime knowing that it is on the list, then there should be no objections to the execution. 
  • Equity, social justice: there should be a limit to personal wealth and a social net for jobless people. Governments should establish national systems to employ them for cleaning of the cities and maintenance of the environment, including recycling and reforestation, thus assisting the productive, reprocessing and regulating functions of the biosphere. 
  • Capitalism, globalization, economic development: the entire economic system needs to be rethought, in order to reduce the consumption to the minimum, namely, to achieve renewable economy and to let the biosphere recover. 


  1. Ishiguro, Y., One-Billion World, MAHB Library. 

YIshiguroYuji Ishiguro received a BS in Physics from Tokyo-Kyoiku University and worked at the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute. He won a Fulbright Travel Grant and went on to conduct PhD studies in Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University. He was a graduate professor at IPEN in Sao Paulo and then a research scientist at IEAv until retirement in 2009. His concern about human population began in his early teenage years.


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