Ecology

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anthropocene-562x316.jpgWe may be entering an entirely new phase of the Earth’s history. In February 2008, British researchers theorized that human industry over the last two centuries has led to the end of the ‘Holocene’ epoch and that we are now entering the ‘Anthropocene‘ epoch, shaped by human activity.

While this may sound fetching to radical technocrats, or to those who think that humanism is not about a wholecloth betterment of the human condition, it means effectively that we have botched our relationship with nature, and will now face a bewildering array of consequences.

The science is bearing this out on a number of fronts, and everything from deteriorating ecosystems, oceanic ‘dead zones’, the crumbling of Antarctic ice shelves, to intensified storm seasons (intensifying beyond the outlier values for periodic fluctuation), shows we are facing forces that we can hardly grapple with head on: i.e. geological forces.

The early 21st century, due as much to delay as to a now global resource culture of plunder and pay later, is a time that will define our relationship to the natural resources on which we depend for survival. We are forced by circumstance now to take a very far-ahead gaze at what that relationship should be, and our decision will be fateful, one way or another.

There are vital statistics and studies of unprecedented detail emerging that can help us to find a better way forward, what ecologist and researcher Lester Brown refers to as ‘Plan B‘, an ecologically-minded overhaul of the global economy.

Scientific research and new technologies will play a major role in our common awareness of this problem, its effects, and of what sudden sense of urgency may arise, depending on circumstance. Much of what we now know about the natural environment transcends anything that we could have presumed just decades ago, therefore…

Much of what we will now need to learn, in order to apply the ecological knowledge we have gained, in order to develop the solutions we will need, and which are both sustainable and economical, will have to break free from conventional thinking, shatter the status quo in technology and industry-related thought.

Our conceptions of energy, and how it works, of health, and what it is really, of our place in the world, and our responsibilities, of how to work with matter to make the manipulation of matter a less perilous enterprise, will all be tied to major changes in the way we conceive both the problems and the solutions.

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One thought on “Ecology

  1. jr3o says:

    The Time is Now, an Action Plan for Global Emissions Reduction

    Due to the science we already have, the laws we have to govern our own activity and to force government to act for the public health, we face the real possibility of being forced, in American courts, in the future, to pay for damage done to the most affected populations in other parts of the world, as a result of inaction by our government. And if not in court, then as a matter of the de facto urgencies of international political stability.

    If we do not find a way to work to mitigate global climate change, future generations will look back and will see clearly that a zeitgeist of selfish convenience and primitive disregard for the wellbeing of our fellow human beings led to a reckless attitude with regard to this snowballing crisis. The public voice, and those campaigning for the level of public respect needed for election to office, should bring this issue to the fore, push for real initiatives to tackle the problem boldly, in a collaborative way, now.

    Distilling the long version of the text, we get various ambitious, but indispensable steps for starting the long road to full sustainability:

    1. Push a 90% emissions reduction goal for 2050, and make it global…
    2. Work to punish all forms of corruption associated with energy production…
    3. Ensure that the US economy is incentivized, from top to bottom, to adopt renewable resources…
    4. Limited use doctrine for nuclear plants, employed in transition to help reduce cost of energy from renewables…
    5. Greening the military: incentivize ecological responsibility…
    6. Plan for “jump” generation innovations: what comes after what comes next…

    So, let’s think ahead and privilege the “zero emissions” criterion. The more we can do to implement large-scale energy solutions that are in themselves zero-emissions processes, the larger the percentage of current emissions we can do without. It’s that simple.

    We are on the cusp of an energy revolution, which is synonymous with acting to save the relative homeostasis of the global environment, to which our civilization is accustomed and which it requires for long-term stability. We can phase out fossil fuels, then nuclear, while building a global renewables grid, and (parallel to that) jumping ahead to what’s next. Integrated thinking will help us to serve the needs of a global systems ecology imperiled by our current practices. [Full Action Plan]