As the story says: ‘Evolve or Die.’
Without good, dependable, and enough information, apathy and denial become too frequent coping mechanisms. The situation absolutely cries out for faithful implementation of the cautionary principle for ourselves and all the other species. In this do or die situation our intention is to become adequately prepared for the worst-case scenario, whenever it may come. We must accomplish the huge but doable changes without waiting to see how the climate instability already set in motion, plays out. This is so, because if we wait to see how bad it gets, and it turns out as disastrous as where the feedback loops and their tipping points now appear to be taking us, then it will be too late to take corrective action. Because the irreversible greenhouse will be dramatically intractable and grossly destructive, it could take ninety some percent of all species to extinction.
Bluntly spoken: for the sake of humanity and evolution, we cannot afford to screw this one up. It’s like getting ready for a long ocean voyage on a splendid sailing ship. After destination and birthing planning, we have to take on good supplies of the best provisions, tools, and equipment. Because we are headed into uncharted waters, the crew has to be mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit and flexible enough to adapt to the widest possible circumstances and local conditions.
In a recent issue of Mother Jones magazine called “Evolve or Die”, explorer and scientist Julia Whitty discusses the twelve tipping points, identified by John Schellnhuber, that can trigger major disintegrations of earth’s ecological balance. To avoid catastrophe, adaptive human actions are needed to tip the balance the other way, such being Whitty’s thirteenth tipping point. Certainly, adaptive actions are urgently needed. Greenhouse gas releases into the atmosphere need to be drastically curtailed without delay.Whitty lists Schellnhuber’s twelve tipping points:
- The Amazon rainforest—which currently absorbs millions of tons of CO2 each year—is being destroyed by droughts and fires;
- Melting glaciers and polar ice cap threaten the North Atlantic current and the entire global oceanic temperature conveyor system (of which the Gulf Stream is an important part);
- The Greenland ice sheet, which contains about six percent of the entire world’s fresh water, is melting much more rapidly than predicted, causing sea levels to rise;
- The ozone hole is healing much more slowly than expected, and the increased ultraviolet radiation results in less of the phytoplankton that absorbs and sequesters CO2;
- Global warming is slowing the Antarctic circumpolar current, which carries nutrients to the surface; this slowing also threaten phytoplankton, and reducing the amount of CO2 it absorbs;
- The Sahara desert is shrinking; while this may seem to be a good thing, it reduces the amount of desert dust that fertilizes the oceans, shrinking plankton growth and reducing carbon absorption;
- The snowy heights of the Tibetan Plateau, a million square miles of steppe, mountains, and lakes, reflect solar heat; as the snow melt that solar heat is absorbed and could drastically increase or decrease the monsoons;
- Monsoons are closely related to ocean temperature and currents, and changes in these could either reduce the monsoons (resulting in drought) or drastically increase the monsoons (resulting in catastrophic flooding);
- Warming is melting the Permafrost, thus releasing methane, a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent than CO2; this, in turn, creates even more warming;
- Ocean warming causes changes in the “salinity valves” that separate oceanic ecosystems, threatening marine life and changes in ocean currents that regulate temperature;
- Rising ocean temperatures conditions could create a more persistent El Niño, with associated droughts in some areas and flooding in others;
- West Antarctic ice sheets—containing 7 million cubic miles of water—are melting 10 times (in some cases 10,000 times) faster than predicted; as the ice melts, even more heat is absorbed, thus increasing the problem.
Luckily, many citizens, scientists, researchers, businesses and students have been hoping and preparing their skills, knowledge, insights, contacts, resources, with the collective conscious and unconscious, intuition, coincidences, and synchronicities at their side. So off we are with books, speakers, conferences, communities, articles, computers, reams and reams of information, and motivation to learn quickly what we need to know and do.
By Joris Rosse
Joris is a member of the Alliance steering committee