The biggest losers on Earth, as a result of the human population explosion over the last hundred years, have been wildlife and their habitats.
Humans need land to live on, and with towns and cities getting increasingly overcrowded, then obviously the towns and cities will expand and claim more land, or new towns and cities will be built. Either way, the habitat of wildlife will be severely affected.
The massive increase in the human population worldwide has seen swathes of land taken over for farming, and the problems have been exacerbated by the fact that humans also need more natural materials, thus there has been an increase in logging and mining. This has had a particularly damaging impact, and endangered animals such as the orangutan.
There are other problems, which really could be avoided, including, for example, the wanton destruction of the hedgerows in the UK, as increasing areas of countryside are taken over for farming, and feeding human beings. But hedgerows could easily still be conserved, as they could be used as borders for farmers fields.
Areas which have obviously suffered badly through human encroachment have been the rainforests of the world. The loss of habitat has not only affected wildlife, but is widely believed to have impacted on the world's climate in recent years. So, ironically, the search to sustain human life appears to be damaging it.
The biggest challenge humanity faces in the rest of the 21st Century, will surely be attempting to sustain the human population, but also trying to halt the problems which are beginning to arise because of climate change.
Man has been responsible for extinctions, possibly going right back as far as the woolly mammoth, but it's only been since the Industrial Revolution that mankind has had the capacity to take over vast areas of the planet so quickly. There does still seem to be a breathtaking disregard when it comes to environmental damage - from oil spills to deforestation, and attitudes need to change - and quickly.
But, let's be hopeful because we have to change. The human race will continue to increase, but throughout history man has been ingenious in dealing with various problems, and now mankind faces problems which will dwarf anything in human history since the Black Death in the Middle Ages. It'll be interesting to see which countries rise to the challenge. For the sake of the Earth, we'll have to hope that it's all of them!