threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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The Uninhabitable Earth: a worst-case climate scenario

On July 9th 2017, New York Magazine published an article with this title, which led to a burst of media comment and controversy. It quickly became the most-read article in the magazine’s history.  See: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans-annotated.html, written by David Wallace-Wells which summarises the response to the original article.

Another, deeply thoughtful, response, written by David Korten for Common Dreams is entitled, ‘For the Love of Earth’ and can be found at:

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/09/02/love-earth

Korten discusses the concept of Earth being a living super-organism (from Lovelock – and discussed also in my book Three Generations Left). The concept is about the Earth being able to self-regulate its systems (discussed also in Chapter 1 of my book “Our Beautiful World in Harmony”, which can also be found on this website). It is widely believed by many that the earth will ultimately recover from human’s destructive behaviour, which in some has led to complacency.

Korten goes on to say that “We are destabilizing the climate through the release of sequestered carbons; disrupting natural habitats through ocean acidification and temperature change; destroying natural forest and grassland habitats; and depleting, degrading, and contaminating soils and sources of fresh water on which all species depend. This in turn drives species extinction and renders growing areas of Earth uninhabitable.”  His contention is that humans have become like an invasive species and he quotes from Clive Hamilton’s book, Defiant Earth: the Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene”, also reviewed in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/05/the-great-climate-silence-we-are-on-the-edge-of-the-abyss-but-we-ignore-it.

Korten’s view is that, having brought the earth and its species to the brink of extinction, it is now our responsibility to heal it – and that we do have this within our power.

burning

All this puts me in the mind of a piece I read this morning, some research by geoscientists, who have drawn the conclusion that the human species first left Africa to settle in Asia and Europe 60,000 years ago, in order to escape a climate change phenomenon. Using sediment samples from the Horn of Africa, the team found that Africa had undergone a major climate transformation at that time. Its previously fertile ‘Green Sahara’ had started to dry out, in fact at around the time humanity started to leave the Sahara was even drier than it is now, and a lot colder.

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/humans-first-left-africa-because-of-climate-change_uk_59d5f911e4b0cde45873067e?

People are already saying that there is now nowhere on Earth that we can escape to this time, and suggesting that we need to find another planet to live on.

Can we heal the effects of what we have done here – or is it already too late?

Yet another take on it all was published in The Times on 19th September 2017 by their Environment Editor, Ben Webster.  His review suggests that senior scientists are now saying that the worst impacts of climate change can still be avoided, as the world is warming more slowly than they had forecast earlier using computer models.  New projections suggest that the world has now a better chance of meeting the 1.5 degrees target of global warming, than was previously thought. The study is published in Nature Geoscience. See the Times article at:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/we-were-wrong-worst-effects-of-climate-change-can-be-avoided-say-scientists-k9p5hg5l0

However, as mentioned above, I don’t think there is any room for complacency.  How do we know that these scientists have not come under political pressure from those with business interests and want to keep the status quo?  But it suggests that we still have time to heal the effects of what we have done. Perhaps we should listen to David Korten. But are enough of us fully motivated to make the lifestyle changes that are needed?