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Nature_and_Environment.114

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It's later than you think

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.37}: Jay Hoffman {resist} Tue, 26 May 2020 18:48:15 CDT (74 lines)

Humanity’s impact is threatening nearly 50 billion years of
evolutionary history: study

Human activities threaten to saw off branches of the “tree of life”—
putting irreplaceable species at risk of extinction.

So finds a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature
Communications which highlights the need for urgent conservation
actions.

Barring such action, the researchers wrote, “close to 50 billion
years” of evolutionary history worldwide is at risk.

Scientists from Imperial College London and the Zoological Society of
London (ZSL) began their research by first analyzing the world’s
reptiles and then terrestrial vertebrates like amphibians, birds, and
mammals, looking at how areas with a high human footprint—including
factors like deforestation and population density—coincide with areas
containing species with unique evolutionary history, or branches on
the tree of life.

The scientists found a troubling overlap, with areas in the Caribbean,
the Western Ghats of India, and large parts of Southeast Asia singled
out as experiencing both extreme human pressures and unique
biodiversity.

The greatest losses of evolutionary history will be driven by the
extinction of entire groups of closely-related species that share long
branches of the tree of life, such as pangolins and tapirs, and also
by the loss of highly evolutionarily distinct species that sit alone
at the ends of extremely long branches, such as the ancient Chinese
crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus), the Shoebill (Balaeniceps
rex), a gigantic bird that stalks the wetlands of Africa, and the Aye-
aye (Daubentonia madagascariensis), a nocturnal lemur with large
yellow eyes and long spindly fingers.

At risk with the possible extinctions is not just the intrinsic value
of the threatened species in and of themselves but their roles in the
greater web of life. From BBC News:

Many [of the at-risk animals] carry out vital functions in the
habitats in which they live. For example, tapirs in the Amazon
disperse seeds in their droppings that can help regenerate the
rainforest. And pangolins, which are specialist eaters of ants and
insects, play an essential role in balancing the food web.

Lead author Rikki Gumbs of ZSL’s EDGE of Existence program and the
Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet Doctoral Training
Partnership at Imperial College London put the findings in stark
terms.

“Our analyses reveal the incomprehensible scale of the losses we face
if we don’t work harder to save global biodiversity,” said Gumbs. “To
put some of the numbers into perspective, reptiles alone stand to lose
at least 13 billion years of unique evolutionary history, roughly the
same number of years as have passed since the beginning of the entire
universe.”

“Our findings highlight the importance of acting urgently to conserve
these extraordinary species and the remaining habitat that they occupy
—in the face of intense human pressures,” said co-author James
Rosindell of Imperial College London.

In blog post for ZSL’s EDGE of Existence program,
Gumbs highlighted the scope of the problem.

“We are still learning the true extent to which human activities are
encroaching on our natural habitats and threatening our most unique
and important biodiversity. Our findings indicate that the magnitude
of our impact as a species on the natural world is incomprehensibly
large, and appears to be overwhelmingly impacting the most
irreplaceable areas and species on the planet,” he wrote.
"https://www.alternet.org/2020/05/humanitys-impact-is-threatening-
nearly-50-billion-years-of-evolutionary-history-study/"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.38}: Glen Marks {wotan} Fri, 29 May 2020 08:42:44 CDT (2 lines)

"https://www.sciencealert.com/ancient-ice-sheet-loss-shows-the-antarctic-
can-melt-much-faster-than-we-thought"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.39}: Jay Hoffman {resist} Mon, 01 Jun 2020 02:00:16 CDT (39 lines)

Study shows erosion of ozone layer responsible for mass extinction
event

Researchers at the University of Southampton have shown that an
extinction event 360 million years ago, that killed much of the
Earth's plant and freshwater aquatic life, was caused by a brief
breakdown of the ozone layer that shields the Earth from damaging
ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This is a newly discovered extinction
mechanism with profound implications for our warming world today.

The ozone collapse occurred as the climate rapidly warmed following an
intense ice age and the researchers suggest that the Earth today could
reach comparable temperatures, possibly triggering a similar event.
Their findings are published in the journal Science Advances.

Following melting of the ice sheets, the climate was very warm, with
the increased heat above continents pushing more naturally generated
ozone destroying chemicals into the upper atmosphere. This let in high
levels of UV-B radiation for several thousand years.

Lead researcher Professor John Marshall, of the University of
Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science, who is a National
Geographic Explorer, comments: "Our ozone shield vanished for a short
time in this ancient period, coinciding with a brief and quick warming
of the Earth. Our ozone layer is naturally in a state of flux—
constantly being created and lost—and we have shown this happened in
the past too, without a catalyst such as a continental scale volcanic
eruption."

Professor Marshall says his team's findings have startling
implications for life on Earth today: "Current estimates suggest we
will reach similar global temperatures to those of 360 million years
ago, with the possibility that a similar collapse of the ozone layer
could occur again, exposing surface and shallow sea life to deadly
radiation. This would move us from the current state of climate
change, to a climate emergency."
"https://phys.org/news/2020-05-erosion-ozone-layer-responsible-
mass.html?utm_source=nwletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly-
nwletter"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.40}: Glen Marks {wotan} Thu, 04 Jun 2020 18:24:19 CDT (1 line)

"https://www.ft.com/content/b3f309a3-ed87-474f-9ea0-d39bf4a5b246"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.41}: Glen Marks {wotan} Sat, 06 Jun 2020 22:18:47 CDT (2 lines)

"https://bgr.com/2020/06/06/carbon-dioxide-earth-atmospheric-levels-climate-
change/"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.42}: {wotan} Mon, 15 Jun 2020 02:46:42 CDT (0 lines)
{erased by wotan Mon, 15 Jun 2020 02:46:53 CDT}

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.43}: Glen Marks {wotan} Mon, 15 Jun 2020 02:47:26 CDT (4 lines)

2050:

"https://www.livescience.com/65633-climate-change-dooms-humans-by-
2050.html"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.44}: Glen Marks {wotan} Tue, 23 Jun 2020 20:02:08 CDT (1 line)

"https://www.cbsnews.com/news/saharan-dust-plume-drifting-united-states/"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.45}: Jay Hoffman {resist} Wed, 24 Jun 2020 01:22:40 CDT (120 lines)

The affluent are consuming the planet to death: study

A study argues that it is not enough to invest in green technologies;
the world's affluent must stop overconsuming

Anew study published this month in the academic journal Nature
Communications argues that, despite all of the talk about using green
technology to address man-made environmental problems, the only way
for human consumption to become sustainable is if we rein in the
affluent.

"The key conclusion from our review is that we cannot rely on
technology alone to solve existential environmental problems – like
climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution – but that we also
have to change our affluent lifestyles and reduce overconsumption, in
combination with structural change," Professor Tommy Wiedmann from the
University of New South Wales Engineering told that college's
newspaper regarding the study.

The paper itself argued that "the affluent citizens of the world are
responsible for most environmental impacts and are central to any
future prospect of retreating to safer environmental conditions." The
authors added that "existing societies, economies and cultures incite
consumption expansion and the structural imperative for growth in
competitive market economies inhibits necessary societal change" and
advocated "a global and rapid decoupling of detrimental impacts from
economic activity," pointing out that the efforts made by global North
countries to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are "highly unlikely" to
occur rapidly enough on a global scale to stave off catastrophic
environmental impacts.

"This is because renewable energy, electrification, carbon-capturing
technologies and even services all have resource requirements, mostly
in the form of metals, concrete and land," the authors point
out. "Rising energy demand and costs of resource extraction, technical
limitations and rebound effects aggravate the problem."

After observing that "the world's top 10% of income earners are
responsible for between 25 and 43% of environmental impact" while "the
world's bottom 10% income earners exert only around 3–5% of
environmental impact," the authors that environmental damage is
largely caused by the world's "affluent" and therefore needs to be
confronted by demanding lifestyle changes among the wealthy.

In other words, the world's poorest have a negligible effect on
overall environmental devastation; focusing on their consumption or
behavior is a fool's errand when it comes to environmental policy. 

"Considering that the lifestyles of wealthy citizens are characterized
by an abundance of choice, convenience and comfort, we argue that the
determinant and driver we have referred to in previous sections as
consumption, is more aptly labelled as affluence," the authors point
out. They advocate reducing avoiding or reducing consumption "until
the remaining consumption level falls within planetary boundaries,
while fulfilling human needs," with the wealthy abstain from
purchasing overly large homes and secondary residences, large
vehicles, excessive quantities of food, and engaging in leisure
activities that require a great deal of flying and driving. 

The authors also argue for consumption patterns "to be shifted away
from resource and carbon-intensive goods and services, e.g. mobility
from cars and airplanes to public buses and trains, biking or walking,
heating from oil heating to heat pumps, nutrition — where possible —
from animal to seasonal plant-based products." In addition, they call
for "the adoption of less affluent, simpler and sufficiency-oriented
lifestyles to address overconsumption — consuming better but less."
This approach would need to include "addressing socially unsustainable
underconsumption in impoverished communities in both less affluent and
affluent countries, where enough and better is needed to achieve a
more equal distribution of wealth and guarantee a minimum level of
prosperity to overcome poverty."

The authors acknowledged that there are several schools of thought
regarding how to best meet these goals.

"The reformist group consists of heterogeneous approaches such as a-
growth, precautionary/pragmatic post-growth, prosperity and managing
without growth as well as steady-state economics," the authors
write. "These approaches have in common that they aim to achieve the
required socio-ecological transformation through and within today's
dominant institutions, such as centralised democratic states and
market economies." By contrast the second group, which is "more
radical," posits that "the needed socio-ecological transformation will
necessarily entail a shift beyond capitalism and/or current
centralised states. Although comprising considerable heterogeneity, it
can be divided into eco-socialist approaches, viewing the democratic
state as an important means to achieve the socio-ecological
transformation and eco-anarchist approaches, aiming instead at
participatory democracy without a state, thus minimising hierarchies."

Salon interviewed several scientists and scholars earlier this month
about how the coronavirus pandemic has illustrated many of the
sustainability problems inherent in capitalism. One problem with
capitalist economic systems is that they rely on constantly increasing
consumption in order to maintain periods of prosperity. If unexpected
disasters interrupt that consumption — such as the pandemic requiring
an economic shutdown — the whole system grinds to a halt.

"Going with the structural metaphor concept, there always huge cracks
underneath the facades of capitalism, and the huge weight of this
pandemic has widened those cracks," Norman Solomon, co-founder and
national coordinator of RootsAction.org and a Sanders delegate to the
2016 Democratic National Convention, told Salon. After pointing out
how the poor wind up being hurt the most, he added that "the entire
political economy is geared to overproduction and over-consumption to
maximize corporate profits."

Michael E. Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at
Penn State University, told Salon that "I think that there are larger
lessons and messages here about the sustainability of a global
population of nearly 8 billion and growing people on a planet with
finite resources."

He added, "And what COVID-19 has laid bare is the fragility of this
massive infrastructure which we've created to artificially maintain
consumption far beyond the natural carrying capacity of the planet.
And continued exploitation of fossil fuels, obviously, is inconsistent
with a sustainable human society."
"https://www.salon.com/2020/06/23/the-affluent-are-consuming-the-
planet-to-death-study/"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.46}: {wotan} Wed, 24 Jun 2020 10:52:03 CDT (0 lines)
{erased by wotan Wed, 24 Jun 2020 10:52:47 CDT}

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.47}: {wotan} Wed, 24 Jun 2020 10:52:54 CDT (0 lines)
{erased by wotan Wed, 24 Jun 2020 10:53:07 CDT}

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.48}: Glen Marks {wotan} Wed, 24 Jun 2020 10:54:01 CDT (1 line)

http://newcafe.org/motet/bin/motet.cgi?show+-uQAb6F+-ilad+Politics+992+-25-

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.49}: Glen Marks {wotan} Wed, 24 Jun 2020 19:59:29 CDT (4 lines)

6 Months and counting:

"https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/18/world-has-six-months-
to-avert-climate-crisis-says-energy-expert"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.50}: Glen Marks {wotan} Tue, 14 Jul 2020 00:04:24 CDT (1 line)

"https://time.com/5864692/climate-change-defining-moment/"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.51}: Glen Marks {wotan} Sun, 26 Jul 2020 02:45:59 CDT (2 lines)

"https://www.wsj.com/articles/ocean-plastic-is-getting-worse-and-efforts-to-
stem-the-tide-fall-short-study-finds-11595682005"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.52}: Jay Hoffman {resist} Sun, 09 Aug 2020 12:05:05 CDT (88 lines)

Physicists: 90% Chance of Human Society Collapsing Within Decades

(Irrespective of global warming and other on-going more immediate
threats the scientists focused only on deforestation)
by Jordan Davidson

Deforestation coupled with the rampant destruction of natural
resources will soon have devastating effects on the future of society
as we know it, according to two theoretical physicists who study
complex systems and have concluded that greed has put us on a path to
irreversible collapse within the next two to four decades.

The research by the two physicists, one from Chile and the other from
the UK, was published last week in Nature Scientific Reports. The
researchers used advance statistical modeling to look at how a growing
human population can cope with the loss of resources, mainly due to
deforestation. After crunching the numbers, the scientists came up
with a fairly bleak assessment of society's chance of surviving the
climate crisis.

"Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of
technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low
probability, less than 10 percent in most optimistic estimate, to
survive without facing a catastrophic collapse," the authors write in
the study abstract.

From all the issues that the climate crisis raises like rising sea
levels, increases in extreme weather, drought, flooding, and crop
failures, scientists zeroed in on deforestation since it is more
measurable right now. They argue that forest density, or its current
scarcity, is considered the cataclysmic canary in the coal mine,
according to the report, as The New York Post reported.

"Many factors due to human activity are considered as possibly
responsible for the observed changes: among these water and air
contamination (mostly greenhouse effect) and deforestation are the
most cited. While the extent of human contribution to the greenhouse
effect and temperature changes is still a matter of discussion, the
deforestation is an undeniable fact," the authors write.

The authors note that the current rate of deforestation would mean
that all forests would disappear within 100-200 years.

"Clearly it is unrealistic to imagine that the human society would
start to be affected by the deforestation only when the last tree
would be cut down," the authors write, as the Daily Mail reported.

The trajectory of such rapid resource use to supply a rapidly growing
human population would result in the loss of planetary life-support
systems necessary for human survival, including carbon storage, oxygen
production, soil conservation and water cycle regulation, according to
the Daily Mail.

In the absence of these critical services, "it is highly unlikely to
imagine the survival of many species, including ours, on Earth without
[forests]" the study points out. "The progressive degradation of the
environment due to deforestation would heavily affect human society
and consequently the human collapse would start much earlier," they
write, as VICE reported.

The numbers the researchers look at highlight the extent of human
greed. Prior to human civilizations, the earth was covered by 60
million square kilometers of forest. As deforestation has ramped up,
the new paper points out that there are now less than 40 million
square kilometers of forest remaining.

"Calculations show that, maintaining the actual rate of population
growth and resource consumption, in particular forest consumption, we
have a few decades left before an irreversible collapse of our
civilization," the paper concludes.

The model developed by the physicists depicts human population growth
reaching a maximum level that is undermined by the shrinking of
forests, which will not have enough resources left to sustain people.
After this point, "a rapid disastrous collapse in population occurs
before eventually reaching a low population steady state or total
extinction … We call this point in time the 'no-return point' because
if the deforestation rate is not changed before this time the human
population will not be able to sustain itself and a disastrous
collapse or even extinction will occur," the authors write.

Of course, as with every theoretical paper, there are limitations. The
paper assumes that some measurements (such as population growth and
deforestation rate) will remain constant, which is certainly not
guaranteed. Forest is also taken as a proxy for all resources, which
could be seen as too simplistic, as IFLScience noted.
"https://www.ecowatch.com/human-society-collapse-deforestation-
2646869167.html"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.53}: Jay Hoffman {resist} Thu, 29 Oct 2020 03:03:44 CDT (99 lines)

The Means by Which COVID-19 Could Cause Extinction of All Life on
Earth  by Guy McPherson

Abstract  Loss of habitat for human animals on Earth is rapidly
approaching. Shortly after habitat for humans is gone, our species
will go extinct. The likely route by which near-term human extinction
will occur is presented here, taking into account abrupt, irreversible
climate change, the ongoing Mass Extinction Event, and the
consequences of COVID-19

When discussing the concept of near-term human extinction, context
matters. Human extinction probably was induced, albeit gradually, when
we crossed 2 °C above the 1750 baseline in March, 2020. After all, an
"increase of 1.5 degrees is the maximum the planet can tolerate; ...
at worst, [such a rise in temperature above the 1750 baseline will
cause] the extinction of humankind altogether"

In addition to the rapid contemporary increase in planetary
temperature, ongoing and projected rates of change further indicate
near-term extinction of Homo sapiens. The projected rate of climate
change based on the gradualism assumed by the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC), outstrips the adaptive response of
vertebrates by a factor of 10,000 times. Similarly, mammals cannot
evolve rapidly enough to escape the current extinction crisis. Humans
are classified as vertebrate mammals, indicating that we will
experience a fate similar to the one faced by an estimated 150-200
species of plants and animals each day (United Nations Environment
Programme 2010). Loss of human habitat throughout the world draws
near. Earlier research indicates several means by which Homo sapiens
could lose habitat on Earth. As with other species that lose habitat,
human extinction will follow shortly thereafter. The current analysis
describes the probable means by which humans will die as part of the
extinction of our species.

Postulating about the timing of extinction is fraught with peril. Once
habitat is irretrievably lost, however, it is safe to assume that
human extinction will follow. The rapidity of change associated with
loss of aerosol masking precludes retention of habitat for human
animals anywhere on Earth. In addition, the catastrophic meltdown of
the world's nuclear power facilities poses an additional threat to all
life on Earth. These two existential threats are described below.

Atmospheric aerosols block incoming sunlight, thereby keeping Earth
artificially cool. Reducing industrial activity, hence aerosols, by as
little as 20 percent is expected to cause a global- average
temperature rise of 1 °C within a few weeks. One means by which
aerosol masking could decline is via reduction of industrial activity
resulting from SARS-CoV-2. Initial measurements from the SARS-CoV-2
pandemic indicate a 17 percent reduction in daily global carbon
dioxide emissions. Whether this reduction in carbon dioxide emissions
corresponds directly to a reduction in industrial activity is unknown.
However, if this reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide corresponds
directly to industrial activity, then the change is like to drive a
global-average spike in temperature sufficient to cause loss of
habitat for humans in the near term. Essential workers at nuclear
power plants will stop working voluntarily or disappear as a result of
human extinction. The absence of skilled workers will lead to the
uncontrolled meltdown of nuclear power plants and therefore cause
lethal mutations that result from widespread ionizing radiation. Such
an event will destroy the plants at the base of the terrestrial food
web, thus leading to loss of all organisms that depends upon plants.
How quickly will habitat for human animals disappear from Earth? Earth
is in the midst of abrupt, irreversible climate change. The ongoing
rate of temperature rise indicates that the climate of Earth will
resemble that of the Pliocene Epoch as early as 2030, even ignoring
the aerosol masking effect and many self- reinforcing feedback loops.
The mid-Pliocene was more than 2 °C warmer than contemporary Earth.
The rate of change foreseen by Burke et al. is occurring rapidly
enough to assure the inability of vertebrates and mammals to adapt,
thus leading to extinction of humans and most other life on Earth well
before 2030. I am not suggesting there will be humans on Earth in
2030. Rather, it seems unlikely there will be any life on Earth at, or
shortly after, that time. The annihilation of all life on Earth, based
on the idea of co-extinctions, is predicted to occur with a 5-6 °C
rise in global temperature. This outcome results from "the obvious
conclusion that a consumer cannot survive without its resources".

Such a rise in global temperature will result from the forthcoming
ice-free Arctic Ocean and its immediate impacts, or perhaps from other
phenomena currently under way and accelerating. How will all humans
die within this relative short period of time? As already indicated,
many more people will die from lethal wet-bulb temperatures. Once
industrial civilization ceases, millions of people currently dependent
upon municipal water supplies will die from dehydration. Millions more
will die from starvation, as suggested by "the obvious conclusion that
a consumer cannot survive without its resources". Given the poor
behavior exhibited by the mass of humans in the light of relatively
minor inconveniences, it is easy to imagine additional means of death,
including homicide (for cannibalism or access to items deemed
valuable). What about life in a bunker? Considering the inability to
secure food beyond the bunker, it seems unlikely that such a life
would prove worthy of the pursuit. Marinating in ionizing radiation as
food and water run out would be quite unpleasant. Adding to the
potential misery of "survivors" is the conclusion that recovery from
the post-Cretaceous Mass Extinction Event some 65 million years ago
required about 10 million years for the living planet to recover. In
summary, the future of life on Earth appears grim and short. How we
respond to this diagnosis depends upon each of us.
"https://crimsonpublishers.com/eaes/pdf/EAES.000656.pdf"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.54}: Glen Marks {wotan} Wed, 04 Nov 2020 13:04:06 CST (5 lines)

- We already have the statistics for the future: the growth
percentages of pollution, overpopulation, desertification. The future
is already in place.

Gunter Grass

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.55}: Glen Marks {wotan} Thu, 12 Nov 2020 20:15:20 CST (4 lines)

Past the point of no return:

"https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/11/12/reducing-
greenhouse-gas-emissions-stop-climate-change-study/3761882001/"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.56}: Jay Hoffman {resist} Mon, 18 Jan 2021 02:08:49 CST (87 lines)

New paper shows the outlook for life on Earth is more dire than is
generally understood.  part 1

Anyone with even a passing interest in the global environment knows
all is not well. But just how bad is the situation? Our new paper
shows the outlook for life on Earth is more dire than is generally
understood.

The research published today reviews more than 150 studies to produce
a stark summary of the state of the natural world. We outline the
likely future trends in biodiversity decline, mass extinction, climate
disruption and planetary toxification. We clarify the gravity of the
human predicament and provide a timely snapshot of the crises that
must be addressed now.

The problems, all tied to human consumption and population growth,
will almost certainly worsen over coming decades. The damage will be
felt for centuries and threatens the survival of all species,
including our own.

Our paper was authored by 17 leading scientists, including those from
Flinders University, Stanford University and the University of
California, Los Angeles. Our message might not be popular, and indeed
is frightening. But scientists must be candid and accurate if humanity
is to understand the enormity of the challenges we face.

Getting to grips with the problem

First, we reviewed the extent to which experts grasp the scale of the
threats to the biosphere and its lifeforms, including humanity.
Alarmingly, the research shows future environmental conditions will be
far more dangerous than experts currently believe.

This is largely because academics tend to specialize in one
discipline, which means they're in many cases unfamiliar with the
complex system in which planetary-scale problems—and their potential
solutions—exist.

What's more, positive change can be impeded by governments rejecting
or ignoring scientific advice, and ignorance of human behavior by both
technical experts and policymakers.

More broadly, the human optimism bias – thinking bad things are more
likely to befall others than yourself—means many people underestimate
the environmental crisis.

Numbers don't lie

Our research also reviewed the current state of the global
environment. While the problems are too numerous to cover in full
here, they include:

    A halving of vegetation biomass since the agricultural revolution
around 11,000 years ago. Overall, humans have altered almost two-
thirds of Earth's land surface.

    About 1,300 documented species extinctions over the past 500
years, with many more unrecorded. More broadly, population sizes of
animal species have declined by more than two-thirds over the last 50
years, suggesting more extinctions are imminent.

    About 1 million plant and animal species globally threatened with
extinction. The combined mass of wild mammals today is less than one-
quarter the mass before humans started colonizing the planet. Insects
are also disappearing rapidly in many regions.

    85% of the global wetland area lost in 300 years, and more than
65% of the oceans compromised to some extent by humans.

    A halving of live coral cover on reefs in less than 200 years and
a decrease in seagrass extent by 10% per decade over the last century.
About 40% of kelp forests have declined in abundance, and the number
of large predatory fishes is fewer than 30% of that a century ago.

A bad situation only getting worse

The human population has reached 7.8 billion – double what it was in
1970—and is set to reach about 10 billion by 2050. More people equals
more food insecurity, soil degradation, plastic pollution and
biodiversity loss.

High population densities make pandemics more likely. They also drive
overcrowding, unemployment, housing shortages and deteriorating
infrastructure, and can spark conflicts leading to insurrections,
terrorism, and war.
"https://phys.org/news/2021-01-earth-future-outlook-worse-
scientists.html?"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.57}: Jay Hoffman {resist} Mon, 18 Jan 2021 02:09:19 CST (70 lines)

The outlook is worse than even scientists can grasp  part 2

Essentially, humans have created an ecological Ponzi scheme.
Consumption, as a percentage of Earth's capacity to regenerate itself,
has grown from 73% in 1960 to more than 170% today.

High-consuming countries like Australia, Canada and the US use
multiple units of fossil-fuel energy to produce one energy unit of
food. Energy consumption will therefore increase in the near future,
especially as the global middle class grows.

Then there's climate change. Humanity has already exceeded global
warming of 1°C this century, and will almost assuredly exceed 1.5 °C
between 2030 and 2052. Even if all nations party to the Paris
Agreement ratify their commitments, warming would still reach between
2.6°C and 3.1°C by 2100.

The danger of political impotence

Our paper found global policymaking falls far short of addressing
these existential threats. Securing Earth's future requires prudent,
long-term decisions. However this is impeded by short-term interests,
and an economic system that concentrates wealth among a few
individuals.

Right-wing populist leaders with anti-environment agendas are on the
rise, and in many countries, environmental protest groups have been
labeled "terrorists." Environmentalism has become weaponised as a
political ideology, rather than properly viewed as a universal mode of
self-preservation.

Financed disinformation campaigns against climate action and forest
protection, for example, protect short-term profits and claim
meaningful environmental action is too costly—while ignoring the
broader cost of not acting. By and large, it appears unlikely business
investments will shift at sufficient scale to avoid environmental
catastrophe.

Changing course

Fundamental change is required to avoid this ghastly future.
Specifically, we and many others suggest:

    Abolishing the goal of perpetual economic growth
    Revealing the true cost of products and activities by forcing
those who damage the environment to pay for its restoration, such as
through carbon pricing
    Rapidly eliminating fossil fuels
    Regulating markets by curtailing monopolisation and limiting undue
corporate influence on policy
    Reining in corporate lobbying of political representatives
    Educating and empowering women around the globe, including giving
them control over family planning.

Don't look away

Many organizations and individuals are devoted to achieving these
aims. However their messages have not sufficiently penetrated the
policy, economic, political and academic realms to make much
difference.

Failing to acknowledge the magnitude and gravity of problems facing
humanity is not just naïve, it's dangerous. And science has a big role
to play here.

Scientists must not sugarcoat the overwhelming challenges ahead.
Instead, they should tell it like it is. Anything else is at best
misleading, and at worst potentially lethal for the human enterprise.
"https://phys.org/news/2021-01-earth-future-outlook-worse-
scientists.html?"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.58}: Glen Marks {wotan} Wed, 20 Jan 2021 10:54:14 CST (4 lines)

"Climate change will be sudden and cataclysmic. We need to act fast":

"https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/01/climate-change-sudden-
cataclysmic-need-act-fast/"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.59}: {wotan} Wed, 20 Jan 2021 17:53:13 CST (0 lines)
{erased by wotan Wed, 20 Jan 2021 17:54:26 CST}

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.60}: Jay Hoffman {resist} Fri, 22 Jan 2021 20:50:51 CST (94 lines)

Complex Life Threatened
by Robert Hunziker

Throughout the world, scientists are speaking out like never before.
They’re talking about an emergency situation of the health of the
planet threatening “complex life,” including, by default, human life.

A recent fundamental study discusses the all-important issue of
failing support of complex life: “Humanity is causing a rapid loss of
biodiversity and, with it, Earth’s ability to support complex life.”
(Source: Corey J.A. Bradshaw, et al, Underestimating the Challenges of
Avoiding a Ghastly Future, Frontiers in Conservation Science, January
13, 2021)

The ramifications are unnerving. Accordingly, Earth’s ability to
support complex life is officially at risk. An armchair description of
a ghastly future is a planet wheezing, coughing, and gasping for air,
searching for non-toxic water, as biodiversity dwindles to nothingness
alongside excessive levels of atmospheric CO2-e, bringing on too much
heat for complex life to survive. Sound familiar? In part, it is.

Along the way, the irretrievable loss of vertebrates, or complex life
forms like wild mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians have reduced
to 5% of the planet’s total biomass. The remaining 95%: (1) livestock
(59%) and (2) humans (36%). (Bradshaw, et al) How long does that cozy
relationship last? Meanwhile, the human version of complex life
resides in comfortable artificial lifestyles framed by cement, steel,
glass, wood, and plastic, and surrounded by harmful fertilizers, toxic
insecticides, and tons of untested chemicals. There are more than
80,000 chemicals registered for use in the U.S., most of which have
not been studied for safety or toxicity to humans.

Already, it is mind-blowing that two-thirds of wild vertebrate species
have disappeared from the face of the planet within only 50 years, a
world-class speed record for extinction events. At that rate, the
infamous Anthropocene will usher in the bleakest century since
commencement of the Holocene Epoch of the past 10,000-plus years,
especially in consideration of the remorseful fact that, over the past
300 years, global wetlands have been reduced to 15% of their original
composition.

Once wetlands are gone, there’s no hope for complex life support
systems. And, how will aquifers be recharged? Aquifers are the world’s
most important water supply. Yet, NASA says 13 of the planet’s 37
largest aquifers are classified as overstressed because they have
almost no new water flowing in to offset usage.

Meanwhile, dying crumbling ecosystems all across the world are
dropping like flies with kelp forests down >40%, coral reefs down
>50%, and 40% of all plant life endangered, as well as massive insect
losses of 70% to 90% in some regions approaching wholesale
annihilation.

Alas, the loss of biodiversity brings a plethora of reductions in
associated benefits of a healthy planet: (1) reduced carbon
sequestration (CO2-e already at all-time highs), (2) reduced
pollination (insect wipe-out), (3) degraded soil (especially Africa),
(4) foul air, bad water (especially India), (5) intense flooding
(especially America’s Midwest), (6) colossal wildfires (Siberia,
California, Amazon, Australia), (7) compromised health (rampaging
viruses and 140 million Americans with at least one chronic disease,
likely caused, in part, by environmental degradation and too much
toxicity).

One of the most telling statistics within the Bradshaw report states:
“Simultaneous with population growth, humanity’s consumption as a
fraction of Earth’s regenerative capacity has grown from ~ 73% in 1960
to 170% in 2016.” Ipso facto, humans are consuming more than one
Earth. How long does that last?

Ecological overshoot is a centerpiece of the loss of biodiversity:
“This massive ecological overshoot is largely enabled by the
increasing use of fossil fuels. These convenient fuels have allowed us
to decouple human demand from biological regeneration: 85% of
commercial energy, 65% of fibers, and most plastics are now produced
from fossil fuels. Also, food production depends on fossil-fuel input,
with every unit of food energy produced requiring a multiple in
fossil-fuel energy (e.g., 3 × for high-consuming countries like
Canada, Australia, USA, and China.”

So, where, when, and how are solutions to be found? As stated above,
there’s no shortage of ideas, but nobody does the work because
solutions are overwhelming, too expensive, too complicated.

Meanwhile, the irrepressible global warming fiasco is subject of a
spaghetti-type formula of voluntary commitments by nations of the
world (Paris 2015) to contain the CO2-e villain, all of which has
proven to be nightmarishly inadequate. Human-induced greenhouse gases
continue hitting record levels year-over-year. That’s the antithesis
of success. According to the Bradshaw report: “Without such
commitments, the projected rise of Earth’s temperature will be
catastrophic for biodiversity.” Hmm- maybe declare one more emergency,
yes, no?
"https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/01/22/complex-life-threatened/"

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.61}: Glen Marks {wotan} Mon, 25 Jan 2021 10:34:00 CST (4 lines)

Global ice is disappearing:

"https://scitechdaily.com/ice-is-disappearing-across-the-planet-at-
record-rate/"

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