Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | July 30, 2013

The Future of Life: Dynamic Equilibrium of our Planetary Ecosystem demands Economic Innovation and massive reboot in our Energy Choices.

In his book “The Future of life” Wilson speaks reality and sense. He simply and eloquently states that:
“Unless we make pretty rapid changes towards a clean energy economy, away from fossil fuels over the next 20 years, we risk much of the progress we’ve made since 1800.”

“The juggernaut of fossil fuel economy based market & consumption capitalism will not be stopped. It’s momentum is reinforced by the billions of poor people in developing countries anxious to participate in order to share the material wealth of the industrialized nations. But its direction can be changed by mandate of a generally shared long-term environemtnal ethic. The choice is clear: the juggernaut will very soon either chew up what remains of the living world, or it will be redirected to save it.”
– E.O. Wilson

The earth’s environment is not an “issue delinked from human progress.” The Earth is the place on which nearly all human progress has taken place. As the noted biologist E.O. Wilson says, “…the planet… is a little sphere with a razor-thin coat of life too fragile to bear careless tampering.”

And I agree with Wilson wholeheartedly especially when I see the climate refugees in Africa leaving the chaos of what had once been called the Horn of Plenty — and is now the Horn of Nothing. The Horn of constant war and conflict due to unsupportable agriculture. The scorched earth cannot grow anything to feed people or cattle. The Horn of climate chaos. The Horn of destroyed farming. The Horn of unsustainable and collapsed human communities. In short the Horn of Death…

Is this what we want our collective future to look like?

Our planet has a very finite chemical balance that keeps us alive.
It takes a very harmonious balance of gases and chemistry of atmosphere, ocean and earth, to keep us alive. We are living in an incubator for the human and all other supporting species. A space traveling incubator of immense proportions for us but a speck of dust in the Galaxy that is our spacefaring bubble streaming forth for the Universe.

And at the Environmental Parliament we’ve come to unofficially call this incubator that gives us LIFE ON THIS EARTH — the “Goldilocks balance”. Goldilocks because it’s not too hot, not too cold, but just right… Not too much CO2, not too much Oxygen, not too much methane, not too much azote… but just right.

And this fine and tricky to accomplish Balance is our Incubator. Our space traveling incubator, our speck of dust, or rock we inhabit is not the Incubator. Our chemical gas balance is. Got that?

In Cybernetics Systems Analysis we call this FIne Balance a “Dynamic Equilibrium”. But between You and me, let’s just call it “The Goldilocks Home”
And although it is just right for us — we are we are screwing it up. We are destroying the Incubator by altering the balance of gases and tipping the pram holding us safe, towards a rapidly CO2 super-gasified polluted atmosphere, causing General Chaos and Death for all of us.

And although we know better and have Science to tell us all that, and warn of the future — we are not listening and instead building more CO2 by developing more oil fields, more gas fields, more Tar Sands, more pipelines, more underwater oil exploration in the Arctic and even more CO2 rapidly altering the Goldilocks balance in our atmosphere.

But we know that we need to keep the Incubator safe for our progeny and for ourselves. We are not ready yet to leave this Earth behind… And we need to maintain the balance just right to allow us to survive here. And our Technology can help us keep it thus.

Yet even E.O. Wilson himself a biologist, and a bit of a luddite — sees technology, science, and human progress as part of the solution to a sustainable future, not as part of the problem. He says in The Future of Life (2002), “Science and technology also promise the means for raising per-capita food production while decreasing materials and energy consumption, both of which are preconditions for successful long-term conservation and a sustainable economy.”

Perhaps, then, it is the discovery of petroleum in 1859 in Edward Drake’s steam engine well in Pennsylvania that has in part led to humanity having such high-standards of living today–standards of living that for once allow us to afford to invest in creating a carbon neutral world by 2040 that is prosperous for all of us, unlike the low carbon and low living-standard world of 1840 that was brutish, difficult, and short, with low literacy rates, lack of sanitation, no electricity or sewage removal, and high infant mortality. Historically, fossil fuels have been a great thing for humanity. Now that we know that the continued use of fossil fuels will threaten the progress they have so far enabled, we must use our wealth and scientific energy to move toward clean energy as quickly as possible.

Moving to a Clean Energy Economy is like jumping to the next lilly pad for us little jumpy “frogs.” And moving around the lily pads for kissing princes and cavorting princesses alike — is the next big thing. Just as in the Fairytales, so in Real Life, we need to keep on moving to a new Equilibrium of Energy production from Clean Resources and Sustainable means. And our production of Energy will also become distributed and in that way will help us all generate and consume whatever we need without burdening the atmosphere for the rest of the humans, other species, and the Earth.

And we’ve got to do this by Yesterday, because it is Essential For Our Very Own Existence and not just for Continued Human Progress as many soft politicos will tell you. Nope… My friends, this is a matter of Life and Death.

Simple eh?

And while humanity has made immense progress in technology, in science, in health, in education, in business, in growth through economic measures — we are still burning things to keep ourselves warm and run our lives. Just like our cave dwelling ancestors did a few millennia back…

But today we don’t need to keep fires burning to warn off the saber tooth tigers. They have all gone extinct and our kitty cats are unlikely to attack us in our sleep. Except one of my cats, that I used to call Diablo because she used to jump on my face to wake me up in the middle of the night… saving from many nightmares, yet sometimes from sweet dreams too.

So we don’t need to keep burning up things anymore. Because we’ve got science and technology that allows us to get great energy cheaply without having to burn up things to make our “fire” And yet we are failing in moving our thinking to the intelligent realm of understanding our predicament. Understanding the only by moving away from using fossil fuels as the “fire” that keeps us humming and that produces immense amounts of carbon dioxide [CO2] and other greenhouse gases that are steadily increasing the surface temperature of the Earth and are causing Climate Chaos, and the melting of all the ice shelfs and glaciers that in turn bring about catastrophic sea level rises — we might save ourselves.

Simple eh?

And our neighboring species mammals and others are already feeling the Climate Change induced stresses in their lives, by going extinct. You know that there is no remediating situtaion once a species goes extinct. Forget Spielberg and his T-Rex island. The loss of species is irrevocable. It is rather Final. Terminal and a friendly reminder of our own end of the journey. As an example most biologists agree that we are going through a period of despeciation. A grand period we come to call the Anthropocene in Earth terms that causes all other species to disappear. In the two centuries of industrial use of fossil fuels we’ve gradually caused the loss of almost fifty percent of the species existent on earth and today we are losing about 75,000 species [from those we know] of Life of this planet. It is the greatest Despeciation period since the last great culling at the end of the Paleozoic period.

More specifically, on the topic of biodiversity, from big mammalian species, the World Wildlife Fund has been tracking the populations of 2,688 species of animals since 1970. Their Living Planet Index shows a 28% decline in the populations of these species from 1970 to 2008. Take this in and let it sink: 28% loss of all big cats, elephants, rhinos, and all these beautiful creatures we’ve come to share this planet with in the short space of 38 years. You know what’s next…

The science is simple. Increased CO2 traps heat in the atmosphere and increased heat in the atmosphere raises the planet’s surface temperature thus destroying rainforests, causing forest fires everywhere, destroying arable land, turning crop lands into dustbowls, warming and acidifying the oceans, disrupting weather patterns, advancing desertification, melting the glaciers, and rapidly raising sea levels.

You’ve seen countless charts showing the correlation between increasing CO2 parts per million volume [ppmv] and increasing surface temperatures and you understand the need for limiting and managing our CO2 emissions. Reducing carbon emissions is key.

But you don’t want to do it yourself… because maybe you don’t believe the data. After all CO2 is unheard, unseen, and you can’t even smell it.

Yet the science linking higher planetary Temperatures and human CO2 emission increases is unassailable.
We passed 400parts per million volume of CO2 [carbon dioxide] in the atmosphere in a May 2013 measurement at the Mauna Loa Observatory of Hawaii and we are now moving rapidly towards 450ppmv as the set mark to hold. Yet the earth is warming far more than the target of 2C and we are looking at the runaway threshold of 4 degrees Celsius, and beyond with the 450ppmv… and that is clearly unsustainable.

And although the supposed threshold safe level is 350 PPM we didn’t stop to check what would happen because we simply can’t get off the Fossil Fuel train for many years to come. Worse yet, is that even if we stopped all of our emissions today the feedback loop will continue warming up the Earth and the Atmosphere. It’s also abundantly clear that if we go above 450 PPM we will see major disruptions to global climate and potentially trigger systemic effects that accelerate carbon dioxide (such as the release of greenhouse gas methane from the melting of the Siberian permafrost or the desertifcation of the Brazilian rainforests). The goal should not be to stay under 450 PPM, however. The goal should be to return to 350 PPM as quickly as possible. To do this, we must reduce our annual carbon output from 37 gigatons to under 5 gigatons over the next two decades.

There are zillions of corporate lobbyists, fossil fuel companies and other malevolent PR organizations that are attempting to spread doubt about the need to move away from a fossil fuel based economy. As an example there is a Lobby machine worth Billions spent each year to discredit science and maintain the Status Quo. .

Still with all that in place, we need to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible, invest in companies and institutions researching synthetic algae, biofuels, wind, solar, and fusion power, tax carbon dioxide emissions, and invest in new carbon capture technologies like Bioenergy Carbon Capture & Storage (BECCS) because we simply have run out of time…

As we create a prosperous world without poverty, we must develop cleanly and sustainably to stop the destructions of habitats. This is not only the right thing to do, it’s in our own best interest as many species of plant and animal life may prove essential to medical advancements and the full, complex ecosystem of millions of species provide essential services in keeping our planet in balance.

Yours,
Pano

PS:

Kudos to those who thought that we are Static and we seek a Steady Same Ecosystem and a Static Natural State of Being. Bless you all but You’ve got it wrong in a Big Way.

Change is All and we see positive and beneficial change to uplift us all.
Technology adaptation through business development will take us all to the next level. And it’s good to remember that a rising tide lifts everybody’s boat — economically speaking.

But a rising sea level tide — Climate Change speaking can be deadly for 90% of human populations living in river valleys, low lying coastal areas, and river deltas.
And from what we know the sea level rising due to rapidly melting glaciers can be sudden and catastrophic.
So just take care of limiting the CO2 in the atmosphere, so the sea doesn’t rise too much and drown you….

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