"Listen to me please. You’re like me, a homo sapiens, a wise human. Life, a miracle of the universe appeared around four billion years ago and we humans only 200 thousand years ago. Yet we have succeeded in disrupting the balance that is so essential to life on Earth. Listen carefully to this extraordinary story which is yours and decide what you want to do with it. These are traces of our origins.
At the beginning, our planet was no more than a chaos of fire formed in the wake of its star. The sun, a cloud of a good knitted dust particles similar to so many similar clusters in the universe. Yet this was where the miracle of life occurred. Today, life, our life, is just a link in a chain of innumerable living beings that have succeeded one another on Earth over nearly four billion years. And even today,new volcanoes continue to sculpt our landscapes. The engine of life is linkage. Everything is linked. Nothing is self-sufficient. Water and air are inseparable, united in life and for our life on Earth. Thus, clouds form over the oceans and bring rain to the landmasses, whose rivers carry water back to the oceans. Sharing is everything. The green expanse peeking through the clouds is the source of oxygen in the air. Seventy percent of this gas, without which our lungs cannot function comes from the algae that tint the surface of the oceans. Our Earth relies on a balance in which every being has a role to play and exist only through the existence of another being. A subtle, fragile harmony that is easily shattered. All living matter is linked. Water, air, soil, trees. The world’s magic is right in front of our eyes. Trees breathe groundwater into the atmosphere as light mist. They form a canopy that alleviates the impact of heavy rains and protects the soil from erosion. The forests provide the humidity that is necessary for life. They are the mother and father of rain. The forests store carbon. They contain more than all the Earth’s atmosphere. They are the cornerstone of the climatic balance on which we all depend. Trees provide a habitat for three-quarters of the planet’s biodiversity-that is to say, of all life on Earth. Every year, we discover new species we had no idea existed-insects, birds, mammals. These forests provide the remedies that cure us. The substances secreted by these plants can be recognized by our bodies. Our cells talk the same language. We are of the same family. What do we know about life on Earth? How many species are we aware of? A 10th of them? A hundredth perhaps? What do we know about he bonds that link them? The Earth is a miracle. Life remains a mystery. Families of animals form united by customs and rituals that survive today. Some adapt to the nature of their pasture, and their pasture adapts to them. And both gained. The animal sates its hunger and the tree can blossom again. In the great adventure of life on Earth. Every species has a role to play, every species has its place. None is futile or harmful. They all balance out. And that’s where you, Homo Sapiens-”wise human”-enter the story. You benefit from a fabulous four-billion-year-old legacy bequeathed by the Earth. You’re only 200,000 years old, but you have changed the face of the world. Despite your vulnerability, you have taken possession of every habitat and conquered swaths of territory like no other species before you. After 180,000 nomadic years, and thanks to a more clement climate, humans settled down. They no longer depended on hunting for survival. They chose to live in wet environments that abounded in fish, game and wild plants. There, where land, water and life combine. Human genius inspired them to build canoes, an invention that opened up new horizons and turned humans into navigators.
The Earth feeds people, clothes them and provides for their daily needs. Everything comes from the Earth. Towns change humanity’s nature as well as its destiny. The farmer becomes a craftsman, trader or peddler. What the Earth gives the farmer, the city dweller buys, sells or barters. Goods changed hands along with ideas. Humanity’s genius is to have always had a sense of its weakness. Humans tried to extend the frontiers of their territory, but they knew their limits."-HOME by Yann Arthus-Bertrand