Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Study predicts imminent irreversible planetary collapse

This report leads me to believe that we are very likely going to face an extinction level event in our lifetime. If you read between the lines of the scientists' prescription it sounds as though survival of humanity on Earth would require a significant catastrophe such as pandemic or collapse of society as we know it. Either that, or most nations must immediately focus significant resources on interplanetary colonization efforts. I can't imagine many other ways to drastically lower our population quickly.

Source: Simon Fraser University

Human activity drives today’s global-scale forcing mechanisms more than ever before. As a result, the rate of climate change we are seeing now exceeds the rate that occurred during the extreme planetary state change that tipped Earth from being in a glacial to an interglacial state 12,000 years ago. You have to go back to the end of the cataclysmic falling star, which ended the age of dinosaurs, to find a previous precedent.

The exponentially increasing extinction of Earth’s current species, dominance of previously rare life forms and occurrence of extreme climate fluctuations parallel critical transitions that coincided with the last major planetary transition.

When these sorts of perturbations are mirrored in toy ecosystem models, they tip these systems quickly and irreversibly.

The authors recommend governments undertake five actions immediately if we are to have any hope of delaying or minimizing a planetary-state-shift. Arne Mooers, an SFU biodiversity professor and a co-author of this study, summarizes them as follows.

“Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly. More of us need to move to optimal areas at higher density and let parts of the planet recover. Folks like us have to be forced to be materially poorer, at least in the short term. We also need to invest a lot more in creating technologies to produce and distribute food without eating up more land and wild species. It’s a very tall order.”

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