Citizen Action Monitor

Human activity linked to risk of abrupt and irreversible tipping points of our entire biosphere

“It’s pretty clear we’re headed for something big.”

No 502 Posted by fw, June 11, 2012

“We can look into the past and we can see that earth has undergone these tipping points before. We’re seeing faster rates of climate change, more disturbance of the land, higher rates of extinction. So I think it’s pretty clear that we’re headed for something big. We’re at a point in humanity’s history when we need to plan for the future, to plan for the long term and drive the planet in directions that we want it to go rather than just using what we want left and right and just assuming everything’s going to come out alright.”Anthony Barnosky

Thanks to Tony Barnosky and fellow scientists whose research findings may help governments to formulate policies and plans that help us keep our quality of life as good as it is today for our kids and grandkids, in spite of the best efforts of climate change skeptics to subvert research discoveries.

Barnosky, a member of The Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology (BiGCB) is warning that an ever-growing population and widespread destruction of natural ecosystems may be driving Earth toward a planet-wide tipping point, an irreversible change in the biosphere with unpredictable consequences.

In a review paper published in the prestigious science journal, Nature, lead author Tony Barnosky, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, asserts:

“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.” (Source: Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere, by Anthony D. Barnosky et al., Nature, June 7, 2012).

Here’s a 2:40-minute video clip of Barnosky’s cool take on a hot topic, touching on the risks of abrupt and irreversible tipping points but ending on a confident, upbeat note.

Earth May Reach Tipping Point, video published on Jun 5, 2012 by ucberkeleycampuslife.

TRANSCRIPT

We can look into the past and we can see that earth has undergone these tipping points before. We’re seeing faster rates of climate change, more disturbance of the land, higher rates of extinction. So I think it’s pretty clear that we’re headed for something big. We’re at a point in humanity’s history when we need to plan for the future, to plan for the long term and drive the planet in directions that we want it to go rather than just using what we want left and right and just assuming everything’s going to come out alright.

We’re passed that point. What we do has consequences. By understanding those consequences, and the science behind it, we can actually formulate policies and formulate plans that help us keep our quality of life as good as it is today for our kids and grandkids.

We’ve got seven billion people on the planet now. By the year 2045 we’re going to have at least nine billion people on the planet. That’s going to put additional stresses on how we produce and distribute energy, how we produce and distribute food, how we invest or use up natural resources. And now think of glaciers melting due to climate change and much of the world that relies on fresh water from those glaciers no longer having a fresh water supply.

Think of the wheat belt in the central United States shifting north into Canada. All of a sudden what we have depended on for our economic prosperity suddenly is either no longer there or on somebody else’s land. These are the things that lead to economic unrest, political unrest and in general a [unintelligible] for humanity.

Once people realize that there’s a big global important issue we tend to be pretty clever about solving it. So that’s my hope for the future – that we realize where we are, that we’re standing at the crossroads, and that we mobilize and do the right thing.

RELATED READING

  • Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere, by Anthony D. Barnosky et al., Nature, June 7, 2012. Abstract: “Localized ecological systems are known to shift abruptly and irreversibly from one state to another when they are forced across critical thresholds. Here we review evidence that the global ecosystem as a whole can react in the same way and is approaching a planetary-scale critical transition as a result of human influence. The plausibility of a planetary-scale ‘tipping point’ highlights the need to improve biological forecasting by detecting early warning signs of critical transitions on global as well as local scales, and by detecting feedbacks that promote such transitions. It is also necessary to address root causes of how humans are forcing biological changes.”
  • Scientists uncover evidence of impending tipping point for Earth, by Robert Sanders, Media Relations, June 6, 2012. “A prestigious group of scientists from around the world is warning that population growth, widespread destruction of natural ecosystems, and climate change may be driving Earth toward an irreversible change in the biosphere, a planet-wide tipping point that would have destructive consequences absent adequate preparation and mitigation.”
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This entry was posted on June 11, 2012 by in climate change, evidence based counterpower and tagged , .
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