Posted by: Dr Churchill | June 8, 2012

Heart Sutra

As am preparing to be heading to sexy Rio de Janeiro, for the Earth Summit, this month — am constantly troubled by one question:

Do we have the HEART to CHANGE ?

This is the basic question as am faced with…

And methinks, that this is the basic question you should be thinking of too…

Because we are faced with the end of Evolution if we keep Business as Usual.

We are staring at extinction – No less…

Since living on this earth we are now nearing a point at which climate change, sweeping environmental changes, including mass extinctions, undermine our Lives.

Because our very own welfare and evolutionary survival is at stake NOW.

This is according to the two dozen most prominent environmental scientists, biologists and ecologists, who jointly co-wrote a Scientific paper and offering this stark warning. This dismal paper was printed yesterday in the world’s science publication of Record: NATURE.

They all acknowledge both the likelihood and timing of a planetary “state shift” and also describe the warning signs of it’s arrival. This new paper must sent a shiver up the spine of all thinking people and responsible Leaders out there…

It is death by a thousand cuts.  And the various large, small and seemingly insurmountable problems are the “Cuts” and are all very familiar to You, by now…

Yet the Big Trends are all too obvious and yet obscured by our obsession by the plain human pursuits such as the Economy and all the various bubbles we inflate and then allow them to pummel us when they burst with varying degrees of force causing devastating effects. We call these the Heart Attacks of the various Economic systems. The collapse of the old Soviet Union’s version of economic system was a real heart attack for hundreds of millions of people and whole countries indeed. Communism’s overall collapse was another such Heart Attack and the subsequent collapse of all dependent economic systems such as Socialism and Statist models brought much grief to all around the world.

And the current convulsions of the Capitalist Economic system do not bode well for the future…

We need to change.

We must develop new paradigms of economic systems in harmony and balance with our World. Because we are all economic actors, living within the Big Theatre called “The Globe.” And although you can forgive the Shakespearean pun, the reality of this is elementary even for the blind amongst you. Still the Drama of Life does not allow you to properly focus your vision and prevents you from seeing the real truth of our dependency to Nature and the Environment =even for each breath we take…

Every day we get new warnings of imminent collapse and yet we heed none of them.

Warnings the equivalent of yelling “Fire” in the crowded Theatre, and yet we fail to hear. We certainly do not head for the exits either… What are we waiting for?  To be burned to a crisp while listening to the last violin notes emanating from the orchestra?

These warning notes are painful because — long they are — yet they include a singular planetary warming that, while slow on the scale of a human lifetime, is extremely rapid on a geologic time scale.

We consume this planet to Death.

And yet human population growth and economic expansion continue to demand new resources like energy and food, to claim new land and to cut natural landscapes into disconnected patchworks.

On the Big Scale of things we have this humongous study that shows conclusively how Humans have already devoured about 43 percent of the ice-free land surface of the planet. We turned nature towards our economic uses like agriculture for raising crops and livestock animals and built environments, including roadways, cities, and all human habitats and whimsies; according to the global data these detail orientated scientists collected.

And this brings us to a tipping point.

Because many studies on a smaller scale, same as common sense and the “Laws of see-saw” all suggest that when more than 50% of a natural landscape is lost, the ecological web will collapse.

But what is the ecological web?

The Ecological web is the HEART of everything.

The Ecological Web is the real HEART of our existence and of our planet.

Its failure is the equivalent of a Heart Attack.

No more – No less…

For those of you who have experienced this yourselves or with people close to you, You know — it kills the host.

Not only a heart attack is terminal, but it is also a bursting of the dam for cataclysmic changes even if you happen to survive.

Yet with recent medical science achievements, heart attacks although still fatal — in some cases can be reversed. According to the record in only about 3% of all heart attacks there is a chance of saving the life of the person, and the recovery rate is still far smaller than that. It follows that where you live and how – poor vs rich, urban vs rural, first world vs third world etc – determines your chances of being saved from a heart attack. Medical innovation therefore saves a bit less than 3% globally. These are not very good odds to speak of.

So of course sometimes – rarely – one can be saved from a heart attack. Only through timely intervention and through dramatic and tremendously heroic & specialized innovative medical efforts. Provided that there is a trained medical technician with a defibrillator nearby etc… And the end results are still highly uncertain… So only 3% or less make it through to the other side of a heart attack.

So we are nearing a massive Heart Attack on a global scale…

And so, me along with this new scientific paper ask, what are the chances that this heart attack will prove true for the whole planet?

In public interviews, all the scientists involved in writing this paper acknowledged, that the 50 %  threshold of land use, is based on extrapolating the earlier research findings and using the data from earlier collapses of Ecosystems that we have observed in our own lifetimes… That is pretty good verification.

But what they were really deeply concerned about, were the run-away trends at play on this planet, and the stupid inability of the world’s political leadership to see their trajectory, and their complete failure to understand and effectively grapple with them.

The situation “scares the hell out of me,” said one author of the paper, James H. Brown. Dr Brown, is a macro-ecologist at the University of New Mexico and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is going on to say:  “We’ve created this enormous bubble of industry, population and economy. If you try to get the good data and do the arithmetic, it’s just unsustainable. It’s either got to be deflated gently, or it’s going to burst.”

Heart bursting is a common way of describing the deadly effects of a heart attack n the people’s vernacular. “Died of a broken heart” is another way of saying the same thing. A “heart burst.”

The last bubble to burst is the Ecological Heart collapsing and it will be the very final and terminal act of the human species…

Do we have the HEART to stop this from happening ? This is my question…

The new paper is one of a package of articles on the global ecological situation released on Wednesday by the journal Nature as part of the lead-up to Rio+20, a global sustainability summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro. At the so-called Earth Summit in Rio 20 years ago, the nations of the world ostensibly committed themselves to broad actions to improve the environmental situation as well as reduce risks to human society. That included a promise by President George H.W. Bush that the United States would take a leading role in reducing the emissions that were causing climate change.

In the same issue of Nature, the journalists Jeff Tollefson and Natasha Gilbertcome to the conclusion that the treaties that emerged from the original Rio summit “failed to achieve even a fraction of the promises that world leaders trumpeted two decades ago.”

The United States, China and the EU, have taken only minimal steps on climate change, and global emissions have soared – not fallen – in the 20 years since the original Earth Summit in 1992. Expectations for the current Rio Earth Summit conference, are rather low, but the Environmental Parliament is pushing for immediate action and we see HOPE that the world is listening in the face of the Economic strains… to not add the environmental strains as well.

Especially now that it becomes understood that we can have another sustainable economy that is good for the people, for the countries and for the web of Life we depend upon for every breath we take.

The paper published in this Nature special issue is stirring huge debate. Because the authors of the new paper are speaking of this huge concept. A planetary “state shift” is Big News. And of course they are accused of alarmism by the various business & industry funded professional denialists, because their work can be seen as the latest installment of an old debate between people who perceive hard ecological limits to human population and economic growth. This is the crux of sustainability, as these authors understand, and this pits them squarely against the various exuberant optimists and the “innocent’ people who think innovation will ultimately save the day. Yet the record of innovation saving the day — as they like to say “it has done so often in the past” — is spotty at best. Many economic systems, massively powerful civilizations and empires — have all failed. Somehow they were not saved by Innovation then. Still many economists, in particular, fall into the latter camp hoping against all trends that innovation of some kind will save us. It is akin to a religious belief that a benevolent and unseen God will save us all. But we all know better judging by God’s preference for hellfire and brimstone… Still and although many economists tend to expect miracles when their econometric table hit the wall — the market crises we travail through at present leave little doubt that God doesn’t care to interfere with markets. Apparently He is too busy. Or maybe, He is not interested in saving anyone’s economic model or the Economy as such. Or like the heart attack medical innovation that saves just 3% of all heart attack victims — He thinks — the odds are against us. And so might be the misplaced faith of the economists in the pay of the Banks, Big Business / Industry and Government to the unseen God of innovation.

Misplaced Faith, might be just that.

Misplaced and erroneous..

And what do you propose we do?

Do we go all out and gamble it all for some sort of an Innovative Divine Intervention?

Fuck No.

I’ll stick with science…

Because the authors of the paper marshal vast and clear examples of ecological disasters past. They speak of disasters that have already had serious effects on our lives and on human society and civilization. From the collapse of cod fisheries in the North Atlantic, and the outbreaks of mountain pine beetles that are devastating forests in the West to the AIDS epidemic devastating African communities. And yet as humans continue to push all of the planetary limits, are we due for a lot more of this sort of thing, and on a far broader scale…

Crawford S. Holling, one of the world’s leading thinkers in the discipline known as ecological economics, who was not involved in the new paper, said he found it “surprisingly good,” although he wished the authors had called more attention to the drastic changes under way in the Arctic as a result of climate change — a transformation that he sees as a harbinger of many negative climate change things to come.

Yet there is still HOPE…

The lead author of the new paper, Anthony D. Barnosky of the University of California, Berkeley, offered one hopeful note in an interview. He pointed out that while many species are threatened directly and indirectly by human activity, the number actually driven extinct in the last 200 years is estimated to be about 10 – 20% of all species on earth.

“We still may save many of the species that we regard as valuable out there to be saved,” Dr. Barnosky said. “We as people have it in our power to do that.”




It s  selfish drive that makes write this because we are our own nemesis and our own saviours…

Look no further that your own heart…


I now know you have fears and grave concerns about CHANGE…

Yet you also have the HEART. The heart muscle that leads you to act.

ACT and do the saving first and foremost for yourself.

Second, for your fellow human being.

And last, for our own prodigy.

Your child…

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