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Intentional Ignorance

November 6, 2012

I wrote this essay to offer some essential information about our world and the future of our species, adding my voice to the many cries of alarm over the environmental crisis (lately reaching criticality). [More…]

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Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Annihilation of Nature

At the end of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP – 21) in Paris and as a new year arrives, it is fitting to note the publication of an important new work. It is The Annihilation of Nature. The authors are Gerardo Ceballos, a leading ecologist, and the wife and husband duo–Anne H. Ehrlich and Paul R. Ehrlich, Stanford University research scientists both famous for their lifelong efforts to describe the causes and consequences of human overpopulation on Planet Earth.

Below is a review of the book by its publisher, Johns Hopkins University Press. Here’s a link to the publisher’s web site and an Amazon.com link to the book.

The Annihilation of Nature — Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals

This book shows us the face of Earth’s sixth great mass extinction, revealing that this century is a time of darkness for the world’s birds and mammals. In The Annihilation of Nature, three of today’s most distinguished conservationists tell the stories of the birds and mammals we have lost and those that are now on the road to extinction. These tragic tales, coupled with eighty-three color photographs from the world’s leading nature photographers, display the beauty and biodiversity that humans are squandering.

Gerardo Ceballos, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Paul R. Ehrlich serve as witnesses in this trial of human neglect, where the charge is the massive and escalating assault on living things. Nature is being annihilated, not only because of the human population explosion, but also as a result of massive commercial endeavors and public apathy. Despite the well-intentioned work of conservation organizations and governments, the authors warn us that not enough is being done and time is short for the most vulnerable of the world’s wild birds and mammals. Thousands of populations have already disappeared, other populations are dwindling daily, and soon our descendants may live in a world containing but a minuscule fraction of the birds and mammals we know today.

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Our Opportunity In Paris

Updated 18 December 2015

The UN Conference on Global Warming in Paris is now over.

NYT Op-Ed Columnist Thomas Friedman, writing from Paris, wrote this at the end of the conference:

“I had low expectations for the U.N. climate meeting here and it met all of them — beautifully. I say that without cynicism.

“Any global conference that includes so many countries can’t be expected to agree on much more than the lowest common denominator. But the fact that the lowest common denominator is now so high — a willingness by 188 countries to offer plans to steadily and verifiably reduce their carbon emissions — means we still have a chance to meet what scientists say is our key challenge: to avoid the worst impacts of global warming that we cannot possibly manage and to manage those impacts that we can no longer avoid. That is a big, big deal.

….

Friedman Quote“Hat’s off, because this keeps alive the hope of capping the earth’s warming to 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 Fahrenheit, above the level that existed at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution — the rough redline scientists have drawn beyond which ‘global weirding’ will set in and the weather will most likely get really weird and unstable. We’re already almost halfway to passing that redline.

“The only important holdout in the world to this deal is the U.S. Republican Party. I wouldn’t care about such cave men — as one sign borne by a Paris demonstrator said, ‘Dinosaurs didn’t believe in climate change either,’ and it didn’t end well for them — except that one of these knuckleheads could be our next president and mess this up.”

Stopping global warming is the one thing which ordinary persons around the world are able to accomplish. Indeed, our support for the needed political action will be essential for it to be successful, if we can accelerate the plan that came out of the 2015 Paris meeting.

Leaders have already made great advances in many of the countries of the world in drafting their own national plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bringing them to the Paris meeting. Now it is time for the people not only to support these drafts but to demand they be improved and accelerated in meaningful ways now that the Paris accord has been adopted. For our leaders not to work toward that end (or work against it, as some are doing), I believe, constitutes political incompetence and the leaders dragging their feet should be removed from office. For more on this subject, see my blog posting dated 12 November 2015, “Two Birds — One Stone: A call for action.”

For an excellent and readily available background on global warming, I suggest a visiting with your mobile phone and/or computer to the CNN website two° and its three reports on the subject:

·         Report: Global temperature hike already halfway to 2-degree limit

·         Can we avoid climate apocalypse?

·         100 days to save the world

Of course, there is vociferous opposition to action on climate change amongst some conservative members of the U.S. Congress. This seems ass backwards to me.

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Two Questions for Paris

The United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP-21) has convened in Paris this week. The Presidents of France and the United States have stated that the consequences of uncontrolled global warming are likely to be so serious in this century as to adversely change all our ways of life far into the future.

The juxtaposition of COP-21 and the Paris terrorism attacks two weeks earlier lead to thoughts of how these two events might be related.

I have two questions I think should be debated in the global media this week, while international leaders are in Paris, simultaneously dealing with the dual threatening disasters of climate change and terrorism.

They are:

  1. Is it possible that climate change could at some point in the future extinct humanity?
  2. Is it possible that terrorism could at some point in the future extinct humanity?

Scientific knowledge and experts should be invited to discuss the first question, while political science knowledge and experts in that field should be brought to the second question. Such discussions would likely be very interesting and informative. I think we’d all like to see what the experts conclude.

It is my belief that the answer to both is yes, at least theoretically.

The first “yes” could result from serious and prolonged destruction of the global ecosystem, accompanied by losses of humanity’s edible food production, including losses of fresh water needed to produce that food, accompanied also by personal and military conflicts associated with these changes — likely to result from extreme global warming and the multiple weather and other associated disasters. If this results in sufficient damage to the global life-support system (our biosphere), the result could well be the extinction (or near-extinction) of humanity.

The second “yes” could come should the terrorist state reaches the point and power where it obtains nuclear weapons and uses them to initiate a global thermonuclear war, killing large numbers of humans and producing serious destruction of governmental, industrial, and agricultural systems, coupled with the use of biological weapons and/or intentional or unintentional release of virulent strains of killer bacteria and rapidly spreading viruses affecting the human population, thereby extincting humanity.

I think the likelihood of the first of these extinction scenarios is very much greater than the second one.

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