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Excerpt: "Climate change, overpopulation, over-consumption, and ecosystem destruction could lead to a tipping point that causes planetary collapse, according to a new paper in Nature by 22 scientists."

Aerial view of the infamous Rio Huaypetue gold mine in the Peruvian Amazon. This remote but massive gold mine is known for the destruction of primary rainforest, widespread mercury pollution, and child and slave labor. (photo: Rhett A. Butler)
Aerial view of the infamous Rio Huaypetue gold mine in the Peruvian Amazon. This remote but massive gold mine is known for the destruction of primary rainforest, widespread mercury pollution, and child and slave labor. (photo: Rhett A. Butler)

Scientists: If We Don't Act Now We're Screwed

By Jeremy Hance, Mongabay News

19 June 12


cientists warn that the Earth may be reaching a planetary tipping point due to a unsustainable human pressures, while the UN releases a new report that finds global society has made significant progress on only four environmental issues out of ninety in the last twenty years. Climate change, overpopulation, overconsumption, and ecosystem destruction could lead to a tipping point that causes planetary collapse, according to a new paper in Nature by 22 scientists. The collapse may lead to a new planetary state that scientists say will be far harsher for human well-being, let alone survival.

"The odds are very high that the next global state change will be extremely disruptive to our civilizations. Remember, we went from being hunter-gathers to being moon-walkers during one of the most stable and benign periods in all of Earth's history," co-author Arne Mooers with Simon Fraser University explains in a press release.

If it all sounds apocalyptic, the scientists say it probably should.

"In a nutshell, humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst because the social structures for doing something just aren't there," says Mooers. "My colleagues who study climate-induced changes through the earth's history are more than pretty worried. In fact, some are terrified."

A New Bleaker World?

Much like a single ecosystem can collapse if overexploited or degraded for too long, the scientists argue that the global environment could also reach a tipping point, leading to a whole new world. While planetary states have changed throughout Earth's history - such as the mass extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of the mammals - this would be the first global shift caused by a single species. The 22 authors - including ecologists, biologists, complex-systems theoreticians, geologists and paleontologists - examined how human pressures are modifying our atmosphere, oceans, land, and climate to an extent in which current ecological states could collapse, impoverishing the world.

"The data suggests that there will be a reduction in biodiversity and severe impacts on much of what we depend on to sustain our quality of life, including, for example, fisheries, agriculture, forest products and clean water. This could happen within just a few generations," says lead author Anthony Barnosky, with the University of California, Berkeley. Some species would likely come out as winners in this scenario, but overall biodiversity would crash with drastic impacts for human society.

Research on ecological collapse has shown that once 50-90 percent of an ecosystem is altered, it risks imminent collapse. Extrapolating this to the world as a whole, the researchers point out that today 43 percent of the world's terrestrial ecosystems have been converted to agriculture or urban use with roads covering most wild areas. Experts say that by 2025, half of the world's land surface will have been altered. Even untouched areas, however, are feeling the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

"Can it really happen? Looking into the past tells us unequivocally that, yes, it can really happen. It has happened," Barnosky says. "I think that if we want to avoid the most unpleasant surprises, we want to stay away from that 50 percent mark."

The scientists also compared today's environmental pressures to past tipping points that led to wholesale planetary changes.

"The last tipping point in Earth's history occurred about 12,000 years ago when the planet went from being in the age of glaciers, which previously lasted 100,000 years, to being in its current interglacial state," explains Mooers. "Once that tipping point was reached, the most extreme biological changes leading to our current state occurred within only 1,000 years. That's like going from a baby to an adult state in less than a year."

However, he adds: "The planet is changing even faster now."

Co-author Elizabeth Hadly says that tipping points may have already occurred in some regions, leading to a ruined environment, worsening conflict, and human misery.

"I just returned from a trip to the high Himalayas in Nepal, where I witnessed families fighting each other with machetes for wood - wood that they would burn to cook their food in one evening. In places where governments are lacking basic infrastructure, people fend for themselves, and biodiversity suffers," she says. "We desperately need global leadership for planet Earth."

Little Progress

Global leadership will be attempted in a few week at the UN's Rio+20 Summit on Sustainability, which marks twenty years since a landmark environmental agreement was signed at Rio in 1992. But a new report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) finds that in the last twenty years the world has made little significant progress on its ambitious environmental goals.

"If current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and 'decoupled,' then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a statement.

The report, entitled the Global Environment Outlook, is the fifth to be released by the UNEP and the bleakest. While the world has made good progress on four goals - eliminating ozone harming products, removing lead from fuel, increasing access to improve water supplies, and research on reducing marine pollution - it has not tackled 86 others.

On the plus side, forty of the goals have seen some progress, including the establishment of protected areas on land, which currently cover 12 percent of the world's land, and slowing the rate of deforestation. Although forests continue to fall worldwide for commodities and consumer products, nations like Brazil have achieved significant declines in deforestation. The report also finds some progress in fighting global hunger with the rate of people suffering from malnourishment decreasing even though the total number is on the rise.

Little to no progress was made on 24 of the environmental goals, including what many scientists say is the gravest threat to the environment (and humanity) today: climate change. Other goals in this category include increasing food production, combating desertification, saving endangered species, improving efficiency of resource use, and recognizing ecosystem services in the economy.

Declines were actually measured in eight of the goals, including on the health of coral reefs and wetlands, as well as in the consumption of freshwater.

The remaining fourteen goals, such as protecting freshwater ecosystems, lacked enough data to make a conclusion.

"The moment has come to put away the paralysis of indecision, acknowledge the facts and face up to the common humanity that unites all peoples," Steiner said. "Rio+20 is a moment to turn sustainable development from aspiration and patchy implementation into a genuine path to progress and prosperity for this and the next generations to come."

Fiddling While Rio Burns

But observers do not expect much from Rio+20, at least not from world leaders and governments. Nations are working on a draft document called "The Future We Want" to be agreed upon at the summit, but the document is merely a pledge without any binding actions. Still, government negotiations over the document's wording have been fierce and persnickety according to observers, with the World Wide Fund for Wildlife (WWF) warning this week that negotiations over the already watered-down agreement could well "collapse."

Greenpeace reports that developing nations are stripping the document of any references to "accountability," making even calls for transparency difficult, meanwhile the U.S. has come out opposing the major reference for nations to deal with "unsustainable consumption and production patterns" and is cutting any reference to "equity."

The summit has already dropped any focus on global environmental crises like climate change and deforestation, but some are holding out hope that it will result in better marine protections and greater strength for the UNEP. Observers also say that the thousands of attending NGOs, businesses, and experts may help move the world forward, while governments stall. Several of the world's top leaders have opted out of attending the summit, among them U.S. President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Camera, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Solutions to the world's ongoing global environmental crisis are not mysterious. Scientists and experts urge a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, ending harmful subsidies, conservation of global biodiversity, protection of standing forests, an overhaul of fisheries and ocean management, increasing energy efficiency and access, transforming agricultural systems, changing measurements of national success to focus on human well-being over GDP, and combating overpopulation through education and contraceptive access.

"My view is that humanity is at a crossroads now, where we have to make an active choice," integrative biologist Anthony Barnosky says. "One choice is to acknowledge these issues and potential consequences and try to guide the future (in a way we want to). The other choice is just to throw up our hands and say, 'Let's just go on as usual and see what happens.' My guess is, if we take that latter choice, yes, humanity is going to survive, but we are going to see some effects that will seriously degrade the quality of life for our children and grandchildren." your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

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Founder, Reader Supported News

+41 # Valleyboy 2012-06-19 09:51
I wish these scientists would just come out and say it: it is our economic system that is driving the destruction.

Until the majority of the world's population make the link we're powerless to do anything.
+40 # jlohman 2012-06-19 10:18
No valleyboy, it is our political system. The Fat Cats behind the fracking and nuclear and coal industries share their booty with the politicians that make it all happen. I am not expert on climate change, but if my politician was not on the take he'd hire nonconflicted scientists and get to the bottom of it. But NOTHING will change until we have public funded campaigns.

+28 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-06-19 10:57
I am right there with you, J. Lohman, although the conduit through which the political system trashes the environment is certainly economic and the incentivesd for the fat cats to continue muddying the water.

I don't think it is useful to try and remind our politicians that our planet has no lifeboats: remember GWB's answer when asked how he thought History will remember him?
"In the long run we'll all be dead."

This is not acceptable long term policy, so it is our duty as citizens to vote the bozos out and, I agree with you, this will only be possible if we get the money out of elections.
+6 # Bigfella 2012-06-19 21:11
I gave up on politicians long ago and took matters into my own hands and still do I now have over 30,000 trees and a wildlife refuge. ONLY PROBLEM is it is now surrounded by coal mine!!!!!!!
Just makes you want to become voilent and destructive but how can any think that would work! WE ARE DOOM!
+1 # rosaleee 2012-08-04 08:14
Quoting jlohman:
No valleyboy, it is our political system. The Fat Cats behind the fracking and nuclear and coal industries share their booty with the politicians that make it all happen....


Ummm...the fact that we even HAVE "Fat Cats" is an artifact of the ECONOMIC SYSTEM.

You cannot separate political systems from economic systems. An economic system that runs on GREED will inevitably produce a political system that ALSO runs on greed.
+13 # anpeng 2012-06-19 11:39
Quoting Valleyboy:
I wish these scientists would just come out and say it: it is our economic system that is driving the destruction.

They did say it is our system:

"In a nutshell, humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst because the social structures for doing something just aren't there,"

Quoting Valleyboy:

Until the majority of the world's population make the link we're powerless to do anything.

Anyone paying attention to recent events realizes the majority has nothing to do with it. Either the planet kills us off, or we kill each other off. Either way it is as good as fait accompli right now.
+24 # Adoregon 2012-06-19 12:01
It's economics. It's politics. It's our culture of consumption.

We are the "termite people" of John Boorman's film, The Emerald Forest.

I was chatting with my dogs last night and they assured me homo hubris has already screwed the pooch.
No discipline. Too many humans. Too much desire.
+6 # Bigfella 2012-06-19 21:12
More like brain dead sheeple.
+19 # ronnewmexico 2012-06-19 10:49
To add to the excellent comments offered but with a bit of a different view on this....

the issue is and remains....just to many people for to little earth.
We may think technological solutions excellent behaviors to reduced scarcity of resources and all the rest will serve to solve this problem before us.
It will not quite unfortunately. As populations increase and the need of peoples to have lives that offer beyond a merely substance existence, will increase the pressure upon this system.

Peoples simply will always strive for a way of living that encompasses more than a life of beans and rice and not much more. Seven billion or so may with proper adherence to strict guidelines within a ecological framework, may sustain....but only with that type of consumptive pattern.
The truth of the matter seven billion with any large proportion wanting and eventually getting more than a merely substance d you will have ecosystem destruction.

To sustain this present global ecosystem and have anything resembling a more than beens and rice existence would require a much much lower population.

So yes politicians are the problem, governments are the problem but in the end the human desire to have more than just beans and rice is the problem. That and the large numbers of us now here.
+3 # Bigfella 2012-06-19 21:21
WE can have more then bean and rice! What I see is lots of little solar light costing SFA being produced for folks to line there drive with LED light when this WASTE should/could be powering LED in the house via making BIG (out of little ones instead) solar panels for SFA instead.Just use that thing on your shoulders for the perpose it was designed for = survival!
+6 # Valleyboy 2012-06-20 02:33
Don't agree. If you look at the resources that millions of poor people in, say, india consume it's matched by a couple of billionares with their superyachts and private jets.

The problem is the extreme inequality of resource use which is a direct, and planned, product of the economic system.
+13 # Don Thomann 2012-06-19 11:11
All of the above analyses are correct as far as they go, but we simply will not get anywhere merely playing the "blame game." Human beings MUST face the absolute fact that we CANNOT continue to live in the way to which we are accustomed. Our consumption based way of living IS the engine propelling the planet toward extinction. Am I, are you willing to live in a completely different way? Unless the answer is positive all the protests, schemes, laws, wars and genocides are of no avail.
+3 # dovelane1 2012-06-20 07:06
Unfortunately, our consuption based way of living is also the engine propelling most of the middle class into being able to live as they are. Once someone has reached a certain level of income, and all that it allows them, it is difficult for most people to go back to having less.

In Cuba, as a post states later, most of the people in Cuba started with little to nothing. Most people do not miss what they never had.

In a country whose patriarcahl and cultural priorities are based on competition, trying to foster cooperation will be a difficult sell, especially when all their perks (power, status, etc.) are connected to what they own or control.

Most of the wealthy, and semi-wealthy, sit on top of a pyramid supported by the work of others, and by the products of that come from the earth, many, if not most, congratulating themselves on how INDEPENDENT they are.

At best, we are all interdependent, but acknowledging that fact would mean those in power would have to view themselves and the rest of the world differently. If their self-image, and their power and status are dependent on seeing themselves as independent, it will be difficult to change their minds.

There is also the factor that a lot of people arrogantly believe that technology can fix everything. That kind of arrogance may possibly destroy this planet.
+4 # dovelane1 2012-06-20 07:18
It's been said that a person who can see both sides of a conflict usually doesn't have money on either side. There is a lot of self-interest involved here, on both sides of the problem.

The real problem is that many people don't understand where their true self-interest lies. The real bottom line is that it is in everyone's true self-interst to change our priorities, and our resulting behaviors.

Changing the dog-eat-dog competition model we have been socilized to think is the ideal way of doing our lives, is the only way I know about to begin that process. But, again, if a person has learned to look at life from one point of view, and done it that way their whole life, it won't happen easily. Sometimes, as the old story goes, it takes a 2 x 4 across the forehead to get their attention.

I believe the 2 x 4 is coming for those who are in denial. I would like to be proven wrong, but everything I've seen tells me I won't be.
+15 # Texas Aggie 2012-06-19 11:21
The Randian/Greensp an philosophy of the marketplace applied to the world in general says that this is a self-correcting phenomenon. What the philosophy carefully fails to mention is that the corrections can be personified by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Death, Pestilence, Famine, and War).

The US empire, especially the right wingers of all types, both secular and religious, is presently engaged in encouraging these gentlemen in their endeavors to bring the population down to manageable levels. We have Death supporters who are fighting regulations to prevent environmental contamination and health insurance. We have Pestilence supporters who are fighting health insurance and climate change control. We have Famine supporters who are driving up the cost of food by their speculations and fighting climate change control. And we have War supporters who are pushing the US into all sorts of armed conflicts both for profit (the war profiteers) and for religious reasons (the Rapturists.) With the support of the most influential nation in history, these four gentlemen should be able to correct the population problem. The results, however, may not be all that pleasant for those who survive.
+7 # CoyoteMan50 2012-06-19 11:23
It's not the animals screwing up the Earth it's those darn pesky humans.
Pogo said on the first Earth Day: "We have seen the enemy and he is us"

We are already screwed that was 2005 as I predicted
-37 # barry 2012-06-19 11:48
IF global warming is true (which I don't believe) it is definitely man made. Do you think humans can control the climate?
+11 # Bruce Gruber 2012-06-19 12:53
Climate "control" doesn't compute. WEATHER "control" (with hurricanes enjoying more power than electric generation for the entire planet is more than slightly beyond our capacity.

Wishful thinking, faith in outcomes or convenient, selective beliefs offer little empirical support to climate CHANGE deniers like yourself. I know of NO scientist, even among deniers, who does not admit that humanity's production of carbon dioxide and latent heat (and ozone)can influence climate. They only differ bye degree. So, what is the BASIS for your non-belief...

And what would YOUR "belief" be if a trucker set his 40 ton rig's cruise control on your neighborhood street at 60 mph and stepped out of the cab to let 'nature' take its course?
+3 # Bigfella 2012-06-19 21:27
So we couldn't fix the Ozone holes could we ? Or the dead river that use to be across Europe then course no one thought it possible to fix? All it took was people to THINK !
+10 # Uppity Woman 2012-06-19 14:34
Control? Obviously, no. Affect? Obviously, yes.
+4 # ruttaro 2012-06-19 20:27
Quoting barry:
IF global warming is true (which I don't believe) it is definitely man made. Do you think humans can control the climate?

We can influence it, as we are. we are burning fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate releasing CO2 and other GHGs in the atmosphere affecting the entire global ecosystem. We need to start transitioning from fossil fuels based economy to renewables and we need to do it now. The main problem as mentioned by other is our political system. It is controlled by those whose short term interests take precedence over the very survival of civilization. We need to get money out of politics and the best way to do that is for a Constitutional amendment making all public elections publicly funded. Only then will we have a fighting chance to elect true representatives of the people. I disagree that it is our economic system, though. It is the fuel that drives our system - petroleum, coal and gas - that we must replace. The Pentagon knows this, scientists know this and according to a recent poll a strong majority of Americans know this. SO why isn't climate change even being discussed by the candidates and not just Presidential? Money in politics is my short answer. If this were the Titanic, those in the wheelhouse spot the iceberg and say "Full Speed Ahead." This is insanity and there is a way out of the icefields but the people need to mutiny and take over the wheelhouse.
+8 # NeilBlanchard 2012-06-19 11:59
Yes, things are getting fugly:

Given that we are virtually at 400ppm now, and that there is a "momentum" of carbon PLUS all the various feedback loops -- the land ice on Greenland and Antarctica seem *very* likely to melt completely within 5 or 8 decades or so?

Get ready for much higher ocean levels...

-14 # forparity 2012-06-19 17:01
You said:

"the land ice on Greenland and Antarctica seem *very* likely to melt completely within 5 or 8 decades or so?"

While it's true that Hansen's manipulation of temperature records in Greenland may add to that false belief in Greenland - well, of continued melting in Greenland - though, it's not accelerating - it's certainly not even a fantasy fear that all of the ice would melt in either for the next many thousand years - at the current rate.

Of course, Antarctica isn't actually loosing any ice for many decades now.

And on that sea level rise. Call me when the rate of rise (say the rate for the past 100yrs, or so) starts to accelerate.

I called NOAA a while back. Once again, they are very clear - they see absolutely no evidence that there has been any measurable increase - acceleration - in the rate of sea level rise during the past 100 years of records.

In other words, just plugging along as it has been. The last 70-75 yrs of AGW have not had an effect.

Except for the last year, or two, in which global sea level actually fell. NASA says it's a burp - but it's a burp in the wrong direction, and one that they don't want to understand.

No actual scientist is going to say that all of, or any significant portion of, Antarctica is going to melt away in the next 50-80- years.

And S. Sea Ice?
+5 # Bigfella 2012-06-19 21:32
See your missed the bit about the USSR tundra thoring and the passage opening between Canda and the North Pole, of Greenlands expansion of wheet growing due to warming and ice free field for the 1st time in over 700 yrs. oh we head down bum up and just wait till it ....
-5 # forparity 2012-06-20 10:00
The Great Northwest passage has been at least partially open, and circumvented numerous times before - during melt cycles -going way back into the 1800's - in old clunker wooden sailing ships without modern radar and tracking, etc.

"Between 1956 and1989there were 33
passages. Theyare listedin the bookNorthwest Passage byEdwardStruzikpublished
in 1991. One was byK. Horie aboardthe Japanese sloop Mermaid,who made an east to
west passage in 1981-83. Another was byW. De Roos in a 42foot ketchnamed
Williwaw,who made the first single handedPassage in 1977when the Northern
Hemisphere was rather cold

Consider this : The HMS Investigator was abandoned in 1853 (was on a search mission for two previous attempts), but not before sailing the last leg of the elusive Northwest Passage. However, it got stuck too late in the year in the pack ice in the Beaufort Sea (on the NE of Alaska), forced to winter over - that did the ship in. From there to the Bering Sea (except for this year's record ice pack) is historically open during the summer melt. But, the long passage in question was navigated right then in 1853.

I didn't miss anything, rather our media missed their investigative duties and proper vetting of the silly shrill press releases by alarmists.
+3 # ruttaro 2012-06-21 05:40
Well, you did miss something and I'm surprised since you excoriate the media for lacking in their investigative duties. What you missed is that the Northwest passage was, as you say, navigated by intrepid explorers and adventurers. But it was never considered remotely safe for commercial shipping. The ice represented a serious safety threat and Lloyds of London would never have insured cargo or ships attempting to do so. Now why is that important for this debate? Simply put: climate change is attributed with the shrinking of the Arctic ice to such an extent that the Northwest passage is now being considered safe for commercial shipping. The port of Churchill in Manitoba on Hudson Bay is geared up to handle commercial shipping for the first time. Even the ice that remains in the Arctic is now so thin that oil companies are going to erect drilling platforms in places where previously thick ice would have crushed them. One cannot deny the profound difference. Your research on this question is therefore misleading. Anyone viewing the satellite images over the last two decades would see the shrinking of the polar ice.

In conclusion, maybe you did miss something and you are guilty of the same charge you leveled at the media which now appears exonerated.
-4 # forparity 2012-06-21 09:14
"over the last two decades? No - it's pretty conclusive - the Arctic polar ice cap shrunk from the late 1970's through at least the later part of the last decade -- or, some 40 years - 4 decades.

It was expanding at "an alarming rate" just prior to that.

And who knows what the real difference in the summer extent of the ice cap was during numerous thaw cycles - going back to the mid-1800's?

In the back ground is that other than these little 30-40 yr warming/cooling cycles, is that the earth has been in a general warming period since the end of the little ice age - a few hundred years back.

Prior to that, the earth was in a long cooling period (1000 BC to roughly 1600 BC -- some 400 years).

There is no consensus that it is warmer now than it was 1,000 yr ago - FTR. None.

Back in 1843, we didn't have satellites, radar, nor modern engines powering cargo ships.

Who knows how often the waters may have been equally open - on the East or West side of the passage - w/o those on the other side being aware.

A phone call was hard to make back then.

Interesting to note - that some of the first folks to try the passage last year - got stuck in the ice pack - even with all this modern technology - with one, in the end, getting rescued by a nuclear powered sub.

Anyway - it's time for the re-freeze about now.
+5 # Valleyboy 2012-06-20 02:37
"Of course, Antarctica isn't actually loosing any ice for many decades now"

What are you on about? The western antartic ice sheet is melting like crazy.

I note you didn't mention the artic, which is now melted enough that the oil companies who have helped cause the problem are drilling there.
-4 # forparity 2012-06-20 12:23
The total ice in Antarctica is stable. The total southern sea ice has been on the increase.

Yes - there are cyclic shifts from one side to the other.

Yes, the arctic ice cap has been in a 30 year melt cycle - and for a number of years now, it certainly seems to have slowed down - considerably.

Prior to this current 30 year thawing cycle, the Arctic ice cap was in a substantial expansion - freeze - cycle. It was expanding so rapidly, that it was making headlines - scientists were afraid of the coming ice age, etc. (inc. those blaming that on CO2).

From Time mag - 1974 -(quoting scientists):

:Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% "
It inc a graphic of how the ice had expanded from May '68 to May '74 - the lines are far apart.

Interestingly, looking at NSIDC data for May 1979 and May 2012, the Ice cap extent has shrunk from 14.1 to 13.1 mil sq km - a whopping 7.1%. (less than it had been expanding then.)

Expands - shrinks - expands.

Wake me up when something of note happens for the first time.
+2 # Valleyboy 2012-06-21 04:19
"The total ice in Antarctica is stable. The total southern sea ice has been on the increase."

Note for future posts: when you make outlandish claims that contradict what the best scientists are saying then you'd better provide evidence.

Of course with the Artic it's the overall mass that is shrinking so dramatically - the surface area, though shrinking - is not really relevant.

It seems you've slept through the last decade or so - you're in for a hell of a shock when you wake up!
-3 # forparity 2012-06-21 12:08
"the surface area, though shrinking - is not really relevant."

Excuse me? The alarmist selling point has been that as the surface area of "white" ice shrinks, the darker land and water surface area absorbs more heat from the sun; i..e, it's not radiated back into space.

And they are right about that, of course.

Only, when it decides to return to the cooling cycle - the refreeze can put an end to that in one season.

"The last decade, or so?" Well, the several decades prior to the last decade did indeed show global warming - but as you know - officially - for the past 14 yrs, there has been no global warming. For the past 1 1/2 yrs, or so, sea level dropped - globally. Besides, according to NOAA, there's not been any evidence of an accelerating trend in sea level rise since the onset of "AGW." just plugging along.

And I don't really need to do anything. Instead of being spoon fed - do your own research.
+2 # shraeve 2012-06-20 11:52
Get ready to have resource wars over mining rights in those places previously covered by glaciers.
+1 # shraeve 2012-06-20 12:08
Could we pay the citizens (not the government) of the DR Congo not to cut down their forest? Make every citizen of the DR Congo a forest warden.

Why don't we re-forest the Earth?
+6 # Peakspecies? 2012-06-19 14:27
The warnings, regarding just global warnings and its primary cause, began about a half-century ago. Evidence has been mounting ever since, backing up those warnings and demonstrating that humans have failed to significantly act on it. In fact, vast segments of the American population are turning against the findings and against those who bring such inconvenient truths. Most of those who claim they understand the converging problems, still consider procreating. Is it ethical to bare children at this point, or is it more important to satisfy one's personal reproductive imperative? Look around and you will see the vast majority of people must be functioning in a profound state of denial. I believe we have crossed well beyond the tripping point, perhaps decades ago. Don't expect those who are in the know, about our situation, to admit that. It's taboo. If you feel that nature is a sacred temple then understand the cause of it's near-term demise.
+7 # tedrey 2012-06-19 14:46
Subject: Democrats: Take a Stand on Climate Change


According to the Democratic National Committee's 2012 Presidential Election Year Survey, no position on climate change will be taken in this year's campaign. We must demand that this year's Democratic election campaign openly take a strong position on this issue, and follow through on it.

That's why I created a petition to Democratic National Committee, which says:

"Many Americans believe that dealing with climate change is of immediate importance. Please include a strong statement on climate change in the party platform, and fight for it openly in the campaign."

Will you sign this petition? Click here:

+3 # Bigfella 2012-06-19 21:35
Vote GREEN! 2 right wing slave do not freedom make!
+5 # handmjones 2012-06-19 15:27
No one will make the major sacrifice of going off carbon unless every other nation is forced to do the same which will require World government.
Women in much of the Third World have fertility rates of 5 or 6. In the past most died so the population didn't explode but we are now in position to stop the deaths from malaria, schistosomiasis , obstetric fistulas etc. etc. The explosion has begun and the extra children are flooding into local cities and on to the First World. The U.N. presumes that a decent level above subsistence and education will lead to a low birthrate but that's not soon enough. If we want progress we must tax away almost everything above decent living in the First World and invest it in the Third World. With any such move the money would flee and only World government could make it work.
Lastly we probably need geo-engineering such as stimulation of the phytoplankton and high altitude aerosols. Again a World government function.
We are much more likely to multiply our numbers and our consumption until we have utter starvation and chaos.
+8 # handmjones 2012-06-19 16:03
In my above comment I meant to add that their is already a country that lives as we would need to do to achieve the ends we all advocate. Cuba. Modest living all but all are guaranteed food and good medical care. They contribute a generous proportion of their GDP to the Third World in the form of free or cheap medical services. They have achieved a lifespan equal to America and a fertility rate even lower. Will we ever accept this modest way of life?
+5 # hd70642 2012-06-19 16:44
Ever since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring the repubilican'ts have denied enviromental problems exist . I doubt they even acknowledge that pacific islanders are im danger of losing their homes from rising sea levels steming from global warming . It seems money is the best insulator from reality . In fact their rubber reality check bounces more than a pin ball in play in The who's Rock oprea Tommy. Having Romney in charge of economic or enviromental concerns is like hiring fire marshall bill as a safety consultant. The republican'ts with deregulation privatiaztion out sourcing gutting the social safety net and endless tax breaks for wealthy while want a national sales tax simply are not the answer to any problem
+6 # Vardoz 2012-06-19 18:06
I think scientists need to act much more aggressively and put pressure on their leaders. But I think, in all truth, that man has a history of going too far and now that all the destructive components have come together to reach critical mass, any hope for real change seems slim.
0 # Bigfella 2012-06-19 21:39
Don't know about that, the Ozone hole over Australia is almost fixed and the DDT's are slowly going as are the Nuclear fall out from the 1950 tests. We are clever monkeys and with the right leadership we can change thing.But it may take time and it is running out fast due to the USA long held veto on doing anything real!
+5 # Glen 2012-06-20 05:49
The atmosphere is affected by everything that continues to spew into it. For every country that discontinues the use of one product, such as chlorofluorocar bons, another continues using them and selling air-conditioner s by the thousands. Coal continues to burn. Fires continue burn, either for industry or by accident. Cars, trains, airplanes, trucks, continue to run and spew. You name it, there is air pollution.

As I wrote in another thread, that atmosphere is the only thing between the Earth and death. When one considers the half life of various pollutants, it becomes obvious that scrubbing them out of the atmosphere is not gong to happen, and those molecules will continue to rearrange those in the natural atmosphere.
+5 # Bigfella 2012-06-19 21:48
I believe we past tipping point in 1998 and all we can do is to change our economic system from "Growth" to another sustainable model but as we just past 7 billion mark! up from 6 Billion last year! I await the ravages of the 4 hourse men with trepidation although personally ajusted for the next 10 years I dispare after talking to those who believe that they can buy their way out and become rich from a dead planet. 2020 we are now told is the date of the apparrent watershortages and food crises and my Millionare mates think they will be OK due their money "Have labour will be cheaper , like working for food, ha haha I can have cooks , garders and the like hoo." Till they get killed by the mob!
+2 # pernsey 2012-06-19 23:43
I certainly dont see the Etch-A-Sketch giving a rats bottom about any of this.
+5 # suziemama 2012-06-20 01:30
Any of us who see the writing on the wall know there are multiple problems that need to be solved if humanity and the rest of the creatures we share the planet with have a chance of a decent future...

We need to change the economic and political structures that drive environmental destruction and social injustice....

We need to implement lifestyle choices and technologies both personally, and at the societal level, to live more sustainably....

We need a change of heart and mind in how we regard the planet, other people, and future generations.

There's so much to do and so little time, that the challenges can seem quite daunting.

As for myself, I organize for the Green Party, donate to several organizations and candidates I feel are worthwhile, grow much of my own food (organically), plant trees, and drive a high mpg, domestic biodiesel car. Still, I know it's not enough...
-1 # Valleyboy 2012-06-21 04:09
Wicked, good stuff. I'm like you, I've been trying to live well my whole life by eating organic, recycling etc.

But it's not enough is it? We literally need to change the course of civilization. It's gonna take global mobilisation like nothing that's been seen before.

I see Greenpeace moved to "war" footing at rio +20 yesterday (see rsn). Hopefully this is were it begins.
-1 # Binaroundawhile 2012-06-21 19:08
There seems to be a question nobody asks out loud. Which US political party fights to keep carbon and increase it and which political party is the only one trying to stop carbon burning? I'm not asking to pick this question apart, but just simply which side of the aisle has their hands raised when asked if we should move rapidly to alternative energy and has written legislation to get us moving toward green energy. Not asking which individuals in government, but which collective group pushes this along? DEMOCCRATS AND THE GREEN PARTY. NOTHING will move along until we get rid of the Reublican roadblocks in the US government. China is a discussion for another day, but hey, they are already ahead of us in solar, etc. Ask yourself this: when have you EVER seen a REPUBLICAN pushing to cut oil consumption???? No brainer. VOTE DEMOCRATS ONLY!!! Empty all congressional seats of Republicans and put Democrats in them and get yourselves in gear to warn those new Democratic reps that they have ONE term to get a big jump on green energy. There is no other way to do this. Republicans owe their collective asses to oil and coal and Wall Street. You have ONE vote in November. Don't throw it away on a Republican. Has anyone writing here heard ONE WORD from Romney on green energy or climate changes? I haven't. What else do you need to know?
0 # A_Har 2015-07-30 14:46
This is bogus: we don't have a "savior." Obama stopped the Keystone XL with one hand and then approved DRILLING in the Arctic with another.

Obama administration approves Arctic drilling

By Kevin Liptak, CNN White House Producer

Updated 5:55 PM ET, Mon May 11, 2015

They and he will do what the corporate masters want even if it kills all of us and every living thing on earth.

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