Sunday, January 13, 2013


There's no need for any additional commentary.   Here's the report.  Read it for yourself.

Here are excerpts of the report published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society:

", for the first time, humanity's global civilization—the worldwide, increasingly interconnected, highly technological society in which we all are to one degree or another, embedded—is threatened with collapse by an array of environmental problems. Humankind finds itself engaged in what Prince Charles described as ‘an act of suicide on a grand scale’ [4], facing what the UK's Chief Scientific Advisor John Beddington called a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental problems [5]. The most serious of these problems show signs of rapidly escalating severity, especially climate disruption. But other elements could potentially also contribute to a collapse: an accelerating extinction of animal and plant populations and species, which could lead to a loss of ecosystem services essential for human survival; land degradation and land-use change; a pole-to-pole spread of toxic compounds; ocean acidification and eutrophication (dead zones); worsening of some aspects of the epidemiological environment (factors that make human populations susceptible to infectious diseases); depletion of increasingly scarce resources [6,7], including especially groundwater, which is being overexploited in many key agricultural areas [8]; and resource wars [9]. These are not separate problems; rather they interact in two gigantic complex adaptive systems: the biosphere system and the human socio-economic system. The negative manifestations of these interactions are often referred to as ‘the human predicament’ [10], and determining how to prevent it from generating a global collapse is perhaps the foremost challenge confronting humanity.

" support today's population of seven billion sustainably (i.e. with business as usual, including current technologies and standards of living) would require roughly half an additional planet; to do so, if all citizens of Earth consumed resources at the US level would take four to five more Earths. Adding the projected 2.5 billion more people by 2050 would make the human assault on civilization's life-support systems disproportionately worse, because almost everywhere people face systems with nonlinear responses [11,2123], in which environmental damage increases at a rate that becomes faster with each additional person.

"...a future global collapse does not require a careful definition. It could be triggered by anything from a ‘small’ nuclear war, whose ecological effects could quickly end civilization [32], to a more gradual breakdown because famines, epidemics and resource shortages cause a disintegration of central control within nations, in concert with disruptions of trade and conflicts over increasingly scarce necessities. In either case, regardless of survivors or replacement societies, the world familiar to anyone reading this study and the well-being of the vast majority of people would disappear." 

What are we going to do about this?  Apparently nothing.

"Unfortunately, essential steps such as curbing global emissions to peak by 2020 and reducing them to half of present levels by 2050 [66] are extremely problematic economically and politically. Fossil fuel companies would have to leave most of their proven reserves in the ground, thus destroying much of the industry's economic value [67]. Because the ethics of some businesses [and Canadian governments] include knowingly continuing lethal but profitable activities [68], it is hardly surprising that interests with large financial stakes in fossil fuel burning have launched a gigantic and largely successful disinformation campaign in the USA to confuse people about climate disruption [69,70] and block attempts to deal with it [71]."


Dana said...

None of this is new news. This report is not the first to make such dire predictions. None of it matters to the corporate/free market/petro crowd.

As I said in another thread, if you can swing a piece of self-sustaining property and build on it then get on with it. And don't forget to plan defensively.

The Mound of Sound said...

Of course, Dana, you're right. This isn't the first report of dire predictions. It is, however, one of the most authoritative and comes just as the US government is about to release its own National Climate Assessment.

As for the other business, I'm working on that. Can you explain your reference to "plan defensively."

I'm not a "prepper" and I'm pretty sure I would make a damned poor one in any case.

Dana said...

You will have water. You likely will have food from the sounds of things. Unless you're prepared to feed and water (and likely shelter) everybody who shows up at your door you will need to be able to say no forcefully enough to not be simply overrun.

The times will not be conducive to neighbourhood parties.

I didn't mean to come off as shirty. If I did I apologize.

Owen Gray said...

When historians write the history of our times -- if they do -- they will marvel at just how pig headed we were.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Dana. No, I didn't take your remarks to be shirty at all.

@ Owen. It's lamentable that, now as the Liberals are nearing the choice of their next leader, they have no frontrunner in tune with today's climate reality. Like Harper, they all want to govern like we were somehow back in the 80s.

At times it feels like being stuck in the club car with a runaway locomotive.

Anonymous said...

Interesting publication from the Royal Society. It will take me a week to get through the footnotes.

Our political idiots in Ottawa, Alberta and B.C. should be reading this stuff. Maybe we can do our part in our little corner of the world and support the First Nations in their efforts to have the environmentally destructive omnibus C-38 and C-45 bills rescinded.

The Mound of Sound said...

What troubles me most, Anon, is how the debate we so badly need to hold on this issue is skirted by all parties in the House of Commons. The wellbeing of the Canadian people and, especially, generations to come is essentially irrelevant to our political classes. Ten years ago I never would have believed that possible. The decline in Canadian leadership has been tragic.

Edstock said...

That debate will come. First, the Liberals are in disarray and the NDP are still getting it together.

Second, it's early days yet in this Aboriginal-Stevie confrontation.

This time, the aboriginals are educated and they got computers. Can't wait to see a protest in front of the UN or Buckingham Palace or both.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi Ed. I wish we had the time for what you envision but I'm not at all sure we do. We're no longer comfortably within the "early days" you reference. The tundra is burning.