Economic growth and the environment

If you’d have told the builders of the Roman Colosseum, that people would fly in their hundreds of thousands from across the unknown worlds to see it, then that concept would have been inconceivable to them.

What lies ahead, environmental disaster?

What lies ahead, environmental disaster?

Likewise, a broken planet Earth can seem inconceivable to us now, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be right. I firmly believe we have not grasped the seriousness of the situation.

The biblical-sized ecological catastrophe, with both sides turning up the heat on each other. People with unabated growth and expansion while the planet, turns up the heat a little further with every action we make.

It may have escaped your notice, but the worlds north and south ice caps, are beating all records with the receding and melting waters taking all of Earth inhabitants not just humans into unknown planetary science.

The threat of an uninhabitable world creeps forward at a rate too slow for us to notice, but fast enough to cause significant climatic reactions year by year. The intricate connections that are necessary for a healthy biosphere are snapping one by one.

The Earth’s once forested landmasses have changed to be unrecognisable in only a few thousand years, and yet even with this knowledge of our destructive human nature, we continue to consume without question, as the abundance of life which once funded our civilisations growth.

Australia’s 12-year drought is a precursor to what the rest of us have to look forward. The clash between an unabated economic world of growth and planetary health has begun with consequences for us all, rich and poor.

The most obvious of course is food and agriculture. A warmer world has erratic climates, switching from too wet and too dry. Ask any farmer in any part of the world, and they will tell you it is a global harvest disaster movie in the making with nervousness about what is ahead?

Unaffordable food prices will and already has caused social unrest, but long-term our supermarkets may not look as full as we used to.

The populist view of climate change becoming an advantage with English grapevines and Mediterranean sunshine are dissipating as a warmer world continues to diminish our ability to feed ourselves.

This situation is one fight we cannot win.

Connecting the dots to see the bigger picture

We need to ask the question, can we kill our planet?

The most massive planetary-engineering project ever to take place has seen the natural forests stripped away with endless amounts of polluting gases discharged into the atmosphere.

As scientists continue to join the dots of mounting evidence, the picture of our impact on our planet becomes unmistakably apparent. With the increased rate of polar ice melt, accelerating far beyond climatic predictions, the question now has to be asked:

Does humanity have the ability to kill off complicated life on Earth altogether?

This question is not such a silly question once you consider the engineering projects to reduce the impact of global warming, was only pure food for thought, but in five short years has begun to be taken seriously by governments.

Our planetary neighbours Mars and Venus are real evidence that whole planets can be left for dead if the tolerances for life are over-stepped, above the Earth’s natural geological processes.

How many trees will it take for Brazil to pay for the next 2016 Olympics?

The realisation that we don’t have enough forests on the planet to serve our need is already evident. The possibility of continued deforestation year on year will just accelerate our destiny with a tremendous environmental crash as the planet’s ability to soak up our excess CO2 is lessen further.

A further twist of the proverbial knife will come from our modern civilisations urgency to live with far less oil because of peak oil issues. This situation will mean much higher carbon fuels such as coal are becoming the norm again, as people continue to deplete the remaining forests and habitats further still.

Further down the timeline, desperation for food civilisation will see billions of people eating plants and animals never considered foods before to stay alive.

I now believe that humans do have the ability and collective capacity to break many of the Earth’s systems and biosphere. The inter-web of dependent species is so complicated that whole natural systems are disappearing each day unnoticed.

Rolling forward the clock still further, I now believe that by the time the human story has ended, we may well stop all, but the hardiest of creatures in our desperate bid for survival.

A picture of our Earth, with nothing but satellites, to show life was ever here, maybe just coming into focus. Is the wheelie bin, a true symbol of modern man?

"Light is life."

Stuart Lovatt 2012-08-30