Our perception of the world changes all the time and is influenced by all sorts of things. For example, the first picture of the world from outer space had a great impact on the psyche of humanity. It was a haunting image of beauty and vulnerability.
Our planet has not always been spoken about as a place where resources are being depleted and poisoned. The earth, in mythology, song, stories and poetry was seen as a planet of plenty. Wordsworth’s poems are an example of how the beauty and abundance of the natural world was a muse and a teacher for him. He starts his poem ’It was an April morning, fresh and clear’ by describing a river as a young and strong man.
It was an April morning: fresh and clear
The Rivulet, delighting in its strength,
Ran with a young man’s speed;
It was an April morning, fresh and clear by W. Wordsworth 
Even during the time of the industrial revolution planet Earth was still seen as a plentiful place although the depletion of the great forests of Europe and Britain to feed the growing navy was well on the way. Although people today still write pretty poems about nature, as Wordsworth did in his day, there are more poems about a planet under pressure and the consequences of this for humanity.
Compare the image in Wordsworth’s poem to these two images that are excerpts from two South African poems written in the late 20th century.
The wind asks
who will care for the people
when our economies have turned into casinos
when our ecologies have turned into zoos
The Return by Robert Berold 
uproot the class
from the cosmetics
of its colour romance
luxury flights to fantasy land
this lands balanced on a bubble
one prick and were f***ed obsolete/extinct
The cry of disillusionment by Lesego Ramapolokeng 
Over the years the human perception of earth has changed drastically. Earth was viewed as a planet of plenty now one is more likely to hear about a planet under pressure. The conference title, a planet under pressure, was used to describe ’the largest gathering of global change scientists leading up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development’ , a conference dedicated to how the earth sciences can deal with a human society at risk because of human activity.
Policy briefs prepared for this conference highlighted trans-disciplinarity as nec- essary to understand the links between human well-being, ecological systems, socioeconomic systems and pathways towards sustainability  where the aim of trans-disciplinarity is to identify knowledge gaps. These statements highlight two things: firstly, that the way in which research has been done is not sufficient in this new context of a planet under pressure and secondly, it is an acknowl- edgement of the inseparability of the social-ecological. These policy briefs also capture a global frustration at the many messy problems we face in the world today and how research is falling short of addressing these problems .