Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Avoiding a ‘Ghastly Future’: Hard Truths on the State of the Planet

Avoiding a ‘Ghastly Future’: Hard Truths on the State of the Planet, Yale Environment 360
BY CARL SAFINA • JANUARY 27, 2021

A group of the world’s top ecologists have issued a stark warning about the snowballing crisis caused by climate change, population growth, and unchecked development. Their assessment is grim, but big-picture societal changes on a global scale can still avert a disastrous future.

Within the lifetime of anyone born at the start of the Baby Boom, the human population has tripled. Has this resulted in a human endeavor three times better — or one-third as capable of surviving? In the 1960s, humans took about three-quarters of what the planet could regenerate annually. By 2016 this rose to 170 percent, meaning that the planet cannot keep up with human demand, and we are running the world down.

“In other words,” say 17 of the world’s leading ecologists in a stark new perspective on our place in life and time, “humanity is running an ecological Ponzi scheme in which society robs nature and future generations to pay for boosting incomes in the short term.” Their starkly titled article, “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future,” reads less as an argument than as a rain of asteroids encountered in the course of flying blind on a lethal trajectory. The authors’ stated goal is not to dispirit readers. “Ours is not a call to surrender,” they write, “we aim to provide leaders with a realistic ‘cold shower’ of the state of the planet that is essential for planning to avoid a ghastly future.”

Put on your shower cap and step into the cold. Humans have altered about 70 percent of Earth’s land surface and ocean. …….

Referring to the loss of living diversity and abundance, the authors note: “The mainstream is having difficulty grasping the magnitude of this loss, despite the steady erosion of the fabric of human civilization.” But I think the problem is that the fabric of human civilization has been built and fueled precisely by causing erosion of the living world. The pain of other living things is seldom humanly felt, their interests seldom considered, their intrinsic values discounted. (I am still asked “why we should care” about whether even iconic creatures such as right whales, for example, vanish forever.)

Worth noting is that the authors are overwhelmingly ecologists. As am I. This may account for their perceiving a grim future versus the rosy future offered by techno-optimists. Ecologists understand the world as interdependent relationships among diverse living and non-living systems…….

Ecologists understand that building an ever-larger human enterprise has resulted from putting more of the world through a macerator at the expense of the rest of life on Earth and generations unborn. On a planet that is finite, such an enterprise faces inevitable limits.  ……

Most economists and politicians catastrophically confuse growth and improvement as synonymous…….

If there is one silver bullet, that bullet is full citizenship and empowerment of women……..

The point of “Avoiding a Ghastly Future” is that we all must recognize the enormity of these problems. But the authors believe that reality can be faced without sowing “disproportionate” fear and despair. They say the necessary choices will entail “difficult conversations about population growth” and “the necessity of dwindling but more equitable standards of living.”…….. https://e360.yale.edu/features/avoiding-a-ghastly-future-hard-truths-on-the-state-of-the-planet

 

January 29, 2021 - Posted by | General News

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