In some respects, the destruction of habitat can be seen as the most important social problem of all, in so far as it has the potential to lead to the end of the human race. If we continue to abuse our environment and its resources at the current rate, we will inflict greater and greater harm on both present and future generations. This chapter follows the same patterns as its predecessors in Part 2 in highlighting some of the key issues involved. While this destruction affects literally everyone on the planet, what we will see is that it affects some people more than others, and so inequality is also a factor here, as with the other social problems highlighted. The interconnectedness of the problem being focused on in this chapter with other social problems will also surface as an important issue once again. People commonly refer to ‘environmental problems’ destroying our planet, but, in reality, the planet will continue to exist in its own right, despite the harm that we are currently doing to it, long after humans have ceased to occupy it. What is being destroyed, therefore, is not the planet itself, but the conditions on the planet that allow human life, and indeed wildlife, to continue. The patterns of work, production and consumption that we have adopted have hastened the end of a viable habitat for us. We are already seeing the destruction of habitat for many forms of wildlife, with many species becoming extinct each year. Our own human habitat is also being shaped in a negative direction.
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