Monday, February 22, 2010

It Is Not Too Late If We Act Now

It is not very often that we get credible ecological news that is not full of bad news and projections. Well, I am glad to say that the following is a recent study that actually suggests that humans have not lost the race yet. Yes we are on our way towards catastrophic outcomes but we are not there yet and interestingly enough we can avoid the worst outcome if we are smart enough to change our ways and work meaningfully towards redemption.
The Stockholm Resilience Center, at Stockholm University is self described as a center of Research for Governance of Social-Ecological Systems. The Centre released a few months ago a major study undertaken by 28 world renown scientists in which they have established a new area in planetary management. Their first study describes nine planetary boundaries (listed at the bottom of this entry) that they believe humanity must not cross . The study goes on to say that human activity has thus far resulted in breaching three of these boundaries (the stared ones)but not the other six.
We are currently living in the geologic era known as the Holocene which started around 10,000 years ago. As we all know, it was during the Holocene that agriculture was developed, civilization prospered and industrialization became the norm. But unfortunately we are entering the Anthropocene, a new geological age in which human activities have grown as to form a major threat to the health of the earth.
Will we have the wisdom to adopt the right policies and change our behavior so as to avoid catastrophy? Yes we still can do that but time is quickly running out.

The nine Planetary Boundaries:
1 Strategic ozone layer
2 Biodiversity
3 Chemical Dispersion
4 Climate Change ***
5 Ocean Acidification ***
6 Freshwater consumption & the global hydrological cycle
7 Land System Change
8 Nitrogen & Phosphorus inputs to the biosphere & ocean ***
9 Atmospheric aerosol loading
*** Transgressed boundary.


George said...

If I were you then I wouldn't be so hopeful. It is true that six boundaries have not been violated yet but the three that have been are so major that they might provide the tipping point.

Anonymous said...

I thought that strategic ozone layer and biodiversity would surely fall under "transgressed boundaries." What does that term mean exactly?
Top climate scientists in Britain and the renowned ecologist E.O. Wilson point to the mass extinction of life (plant, mammal ..). And I can't help remembering all the hype about the hole in the Ozone. Or is the whole centered over Antarctica and thus constitutes an (un)strategic loss?
The decadent consumption of fresh water and the unceasing dispersion of toxic chemicals into the environment seem to constantly threaten the balance..
I agree, and much more importantly, economics agrees with the strategy of a carbon tax. Who's going to pass it?

Michael Giardina

Ghassan Karam said...

All of the above pales in comparison to the fashion show:-) I hope that all went well.
I am a big fan of E. O Wilsonand his numerous original ideas such as biophilis and consilience. He , like many other ecologists are very much concerned about habitat detruction and the extinction that it brings about. The same goes for the Ozone hole, it is a major problem that we need to combat. But the Stockholm study does not contradict these findings, it is only claiming that the Montreal Protocol helped us contain the damage from the ozone depletion and that extinction as of know does not pose a critical problem i.e. we have not crossed the constraints that extinction imposes on us.
Please stay in touch.


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