I could not help but publish this article. Americans have just spent 14 billion dollars on an election. Could that money have better been spent on education for how we live together on the planet! Ask yourself how much time and energy we spent talking about THAT one event instead of the urgent and serious issue that faces humanity? Our global survival! Ecologically speaking, global climate change, habitat loss, and widespread extinctions require learning to live in harmony without so much unnecessary devastation. The article is well written and to the point, the conversations are still not happening through education, government or religious institutions. August 2018. Erle C. Ellis is a professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He is the author of “Anthropocene: A Very Short Introduction”.
This planet is suffering because the climate is changing.
Scientists are in agreement, we can no longer ignore the stress humanity is causing the planet, eco systems are breaking down, animal extinctions are increasing, and we are exhausting natural resources without restraint. All this is changing the course of how we live on the planet. Maybe you believe: that human ingenuity can continue to overcome any alterations we make to the environment, that there is no need for environmental concern. Or maybe you believe we can legislate safe limits within which human societies can be sustained, and avoid what looks like the inevitable collapse. Many experts furiously defend their hypothesis one way or the other. Both miss the point.
The question is not whether two degrees of warming is riskier than 1.5 degrees, or whether we are using, as some claim, more than one earth’s worth of resources per year, or how many extinctions per year are sustainable without a collapse of human societies. The real question is how we better negotiate among ourselves, across all our many diverse peoples and cultures, so that we can navigate together toward the better futures we wish for, in our different ways. Global climate change, habitat loss and widespread extinctions are not an illusion.
Anthropocene and Global Climate Change
On a planet of nearly eight billion people with billions more on the way, natural limits simply don’t mean much. Nor are there solutions in limits. The harshest reality of the Anthropocene is that every human action or non-action generates a labyrinth of consequences, both social and environmental, local and global, some surprising, some predictable, that affect different people very differently.
The problem is, what works for me will very likely not work for you. So by focusing on environmental limits instead of on the social strategies that enable better environmental and social outcomes, we fail to engage the only force of nature that can help us: human aspirations for a better future.
There is no way to avoid the environmental consequences of industrial societies operating at planetary scale. We’ve covered and transformed the planet with the agriculture, settlements and infrastructure that sustain us. In doing so, we’ve also increasingly impoverished this planet of wild species and wild spaces, and the carbon emissions that power modern lives. This is are causing the earth to warm faster than at any time since the fall of the dinosaurs.
A Better Future
We need to adjust our expectations. The new normal is not about staying within earth’s natural limits. We passed those long ago. It’s about winners and losers, and about navigating trade-offs and surprises. The human age will be no Eden or dystopia, but an everlasting struggle among different people seeking different futures. Who, for instance, will suffer from a hotter and less bio diverse planet? Who will benefit and who will pay to avoid it entirely? And why haven’t we, the people, acted to solve the greatest environmental challenges of our time — global climate change, habitat loss and widespread extinctions?
One thing is for sure. A better future won’t be realized through unquestioning faith. The safety of scientifically defined environmental limits or in unlimited technological capacities to avoid environmental consequences. When there is no single optimal solution, no amount of rational debate, or even computational intelligence, can find one. Science does not, cannot and should not have all the answers — not for earth’s limits, nor for human futures. A future governed solely by rationality and scientific evidence offers no safe space in these times.
I am a spiritual person looking to the spiritual realm for answers. How can we be more loving and understanding of my fellow man. I am fully aware the planet herself can care and repair herself with no help from humanity. But, how can we live with ourselves when we think of only ourselves? There is so much beauty and glory given around the globe, so much peace and inspired creativity within humanity. Why cant we come to place of nurturing that in one another?