Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | November 27, 2014

The Future of Life: The Dynamic Equilibrium of our Planetary Ecosystem demands Economic Innovation, Entrpreneurship, and a Massive Change in our Energy Choices to ensure our Survival

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 environmental 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

Couldn’t have said it better myself. The earth’s environmental health and consequential “Human Survival” is not a separate issue from our development, nor it is delinked from human progress. The Earth is the place on which all development and human progress, as well as all Economic activity has ever taken place.

So how can we expect to continue having Growth and Prosperous Economic activity in a diminished Earth?

Let alone that — how can we expect to survive as Humans in the diminished Ecosystem?

In short: How do we expect to breathe the Air if we turn the atmosphere into a Gas Chamber?

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 their homes and communal villages behind, engulfed in a fiery chaos in the most beautiful region that once was called the Horn of Plenty — and is now the Horn of Death. The Horn of Nothing. The Horn of constant war and conflict due to failing crops and famine. Agriculture in the Horn is just as surely finished as in the Death Valley, in the Sahara desert, or in the Arabian sands… The scorched earth cannot grow anything to feed people or cattle.

Take the Horn of Africa region, once the cradle of humanity’s development when it exited the lush river valleys of Congo some 130,000 years ago upright and proud with a large brain and a growing appettite to roam the world. This protein rich savannah gave us the skills to hunt upright and run with hunting tools in cooperation with other tribal hunters to bring down big game. This is the place where the need of women to carry handbags made from animal skin first eveolved… This land was our Roots. The place where our evolutionary selves came to become Modern Humans. The Horn of Africa was the Evolutionary Development playground, ancient lunchroom, and launch pad for our ancestros to colonize the world. This was our school, college, university, and stomping ground to grow up to be who we are today. And yet today this historical “Horn of plenty” in Africa — has become the horn of climate chaos. The Horn of Africa, once the richest, lushest, and most abundant food resources place on Earth, with Life teeming everywhere, so much so that people called it Eden on Earth, is now a dustbowl. This Horn Of Africa that the Great Hunters called it the meat locker of the world, this vast savannah, has now become the Horn of climate refugees and duststorms. The lines of unsteady impoverished people, leaving the place of destroyed farming, tell us the new story today and presage the future for many of us as the Climate is warming up fast everywhere. The Horn of Africa can no longer sustain Life as we know it. It has now become the Horn of unsustainable and collapsed human communities. In short the Horn of Death.

And this is a harbinger of things to come to all for us because there is one thing that I learned by working with these refugees: There is No Warning that the Earth is failing us…

And as we see the same situation unfolding in Texas, in Southern California, in Nevada, and all over the Southwest part of the United States; same as in the Loess Plateau the ancestral home of the Han Chinese people and in all of Northeast belt of all of China, and even in Russia’s vast territories, and in Southern Mediterranean countries — we should start paying attention. We ought to take care to read the writing on the wall. We maybe need to wake up, and change, because we shall not get another warning, before we all become Climate Refugees.

And with sea levels rising, where do you think that we should all go to live? If we have to abandon our comfortable habitats, where is it that we should migrate to?

But I must ask the Big Questions here:
Who do You think is responsible for this?
And I continue asking:
Is this what we want our collective future to look like?
And last:
Is this something that we can avoid?

Think of these questions while we traverse the science gap and bridge the wisdom chasm.

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 nitrogen, but just right.

A right balance of gases is what makes Life possible on this Earth and this fine and tricky to accomplish Balance, constitutes our Incubator. Our space traveling incubator. Our incubator as a speck of dust. The human life incubator on rock hurling through space is all we’ve got. And we inhabit this Incubator fully able to breath because of the right balance of gases. Mainly CO2 and Oxygen. Our chemical gas balance is all we’ve got.

Got that?

So why do we go about destroying and altering this fine balance?

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 much like Goldilocks, is just right for us — we are screwing it all up. We are destroying the Incubator by altering the balance of gases and tipping the incubator holding us safe. We are moving the gas balance towards a rapidly polluted CO2 super-gasified atmosphere, causing General Chaos and Death for all of us.

And remember that every atom of Oxygen lost is displaced with two atoms of CO2. Every Oxygen molecule that is lost, gets displaced with two Carbon Dioxide molecules. Not Fair eh?
Yet we keep removing Oxygen from the atmosphere due to the Fossil Fuel burning for our energy, transportation, and industrial needs, due to massive forest fires and the general deforestation due to harvesting the Brazilian and Indonesian Rainforests, and our genberal propensity to remove the green living skin of our planet, due to generalized stupidity, like the replacement of the most beautiful forested ecosystem in Canada with a lunar landscape of Tar Sands development. And although one would think that we know better and we have plenty of Science to tell us all that, and warn us of the incoming catastrophe for the future of Life on Earth — we are not Changing our ways. We are not listening and instead we go on building up more CO2 in the atmosphere, 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 lily 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 fairytale, 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 remediation situation 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.

Do You know what’s next? Can you imagine whose death toll we will soon start tracking? Do you care to know for whom the bells are going to start ringing next?

I think we are online to follow the big mammalian species into the threshold of extinction if we follow this path we are on today.

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 400 ppmv 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 2 C 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 the global climate that will trigger systemic effects that accelerate carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere and thus will rapidly warm the world far faster than previously thought possible. System effects like the release of the most potent greenhouse gas “methane” released from the melting of the Siberian, the Greenland, and Arctic Circle permafrost, the burning of all temperate forests, or the desertification of the Brazilian rainforests. All of this process has already started and the question now is: Can we Stop It?

Therefore the goal should not be to stay under 450 ppmv of CO2. The goal should be to return to 350 ppmv 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. And that is a huge deal to accomplish. We need a worldwide agreement to get there and not just regional of intrastate agreements. A cap on CO2 is needed and that we shall get only from a Global Treaty. A treaty similar to the one that limits nuclear weapons. Imperfect but effective in reducing the threat of nuclear war. Imperfect is better than Nothing in the issue of Climate Change too.

So let us start limiting CO2 emissions through a Global Deal similar to the one crafted by President Xi and President Obama and signed in Beijing in my presence a week ago…
And to get there we should stop developing Tar Sands and building long distance pipelines to carry that evil sludge that doesn’t make any economic sense either. Stop the stupidity of projects like KXL moosehead pipeline and we might survive. Built it and others like it and we will all perish.

Is that clear enough for You? In stark Black and White terms? Or do you need me to spell it further out?

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. And there are some majorities in Congress and Senate of the US house of Representatives that are in their positions simply because they kowtow to the Oilers and their blood-dirty money.

That has got to change…

Still with all that in place, we need to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible, by investing in renewable Energy growth companies. We need to invent Economic Instruments like the Green Bonds that I pioneered and the Green Banks that I co-founded, and we need to invest in economic institutions, and in enterprises making clean renewable energy.

We need to use entrepreneurial science in order to derive our Energy from synthetic algae, biofuels, wind, solar, geothermal, wave and tidal, and small clean fusion power.

And we need Public Policy in order to have a Global Emissions Control Agreement like the STAR Treaties. To get there we need to start a simple and fair carbon tax for CO2 emissions, and to invest in new carbon capture technologies like Bioenergy Carbon Capture & Storage (BECCS) and to swiftly pivot our Utilities to a Clean and Distributed Energy Economic Model.

And we need to do all this by Yesterday, because we simply have run out of time…

And if we manage to agree and follow through with this “tall order of things” and succeed to get the rest of Humanity onboard for a Moonshot of shared prosperity — well beyond the industrialized world — we just might survive. And then we might reverse the decline so that one day the Horn of Death in Africa, can be again called the Horn of Life, and the Horn of Abundance. Eden, the Garden of all that is Good. Eden, the Horn of Plenty, is within reach for those willing to change.

And we must hustle to develop our economies sustainably, cleanly, and equitably, in order to stop the wanton destruction of our 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 our survival, as symbiotic species often do. And also due to the value of the ecosystems habitat community since our co-dwellers, comprise this community and give us Life in the form of unknown plant based medical advancements, microorganisms that remediate the soil, and species of Life that complete the full, complex ecosystem of millions of species that provide the essential natural chemical services, in keeping our planet in balance.

As an example take the lowly plankton, and the minute amoeba, and the reef dwelling coral sea plants, that together with the shells of the smallest species of this earth — are responsible for the majority of the Oxygen we breath.

Their collective actions create the Oxygen that allows us to be alive today.

Yours,
Pano

PS:

And as we embark on this journey of Change — we are also creating a far more prosperous world without significant inequalities and with very little poverty, because our Energy Future as I imagine it, is simply Brilliant.

It is an Evolution of our old individual community fire held in the temple… Only now it is distributed fire. A fire in every home. We need Energy Generation in every home with rooftop Solar, so that each community will have a common small grid as it’s own resilient energy matrix, as each house and every business, will contribute to it. This Vision of mine is a personal Energy Revolution similar to the personal computer revolution of thirty years ago that ushered the Internet and later we co-founded the Wi-Fi to create the Global Brain that guides us today.

That sort of Energy Revolution is what am building today. An Internet of Energy for all of us…

AM sure some of You understand it and some can even see it. But for those of You who can’t visulaize it yet — let me tell you the god’s honest truth: A lot of people out there are afraid of the Future. You don’t have to be, when you are moving ahead and changing. Only then, will there be a Happy End.

Also I want to offer 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 fast rising sea level tide due to runaway Climate Change will be deadly for 90% of all human populations because we all live in great cities located in river valleys, low lying coastal areas, and in ports conveniently located in river deltas.
And from what we know the sea level rising due to rapidly melting glaciers can be very sudden and hugely catastrophic. Just imagine flash floods of Biblical Proportions…

So just take care of limiting the use of fossil fuels in order to reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere, so that the sea doesn’t rise too much and drown you….

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