Saturday, May 21, 2011

17 Nobel Laureates Call Out - Is Anybody Listening?

They gathered in Stockholm this week for the 3rd Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability.    Their report, the Stockholm Memorandum, is an urgent call to action that will almost certainly be ignored by world leaders, including our own.

Unsustainable patterns of production, consumption, and population growth are challenging the resilience of the planet to support human activity. At the same time, inequalities between and within societies remain high, leaving behind billions with unmet basic human needs and disproportionate vulnerability to global environmental change.

Humans are now the most significant driver of global change, propelling the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. We can no longer exclude the possibility that our collective actions will trigger tipping points, risking abrupt and irreversible consequences for human communities and ecological systems.

We cannot continue on our current path. The time for procrastination is over. We cannot afford the luxury of denial. We must respond rationally, equipped with scientific evidence.

The Symposium published an urgent "to do" list that is, frankly, disheartening.  Yes, we must do the things they suggest but, No, we won't.   Stopping the growth of carbon emissions by 2015?   That would mean a Herculean, inter-governmental initiative unlike any ever seen to abandon fossil fuels and shift to alternative energy beginning immediately.   That wouldn't mean just mothballing coal plants and building windmills or solar panels.  It would require a fundamental restructuring of our societies and our economies.   It would mean abandoning the "growth and jobs" paradigm that has driven Western economies and politics for centuries.  It would mean embracing core principles from which some, particularly the most advantaged, would recoil.


Uncommoner said...

I agree with your conclusion (and thanks for the link, that will make for something to read on a long car trip tomorrow) that we won't act as these scientists suggest.

Which rather suggests that, as a species, we don't deserve to survive, do we? If we can bring together a group of our best and brightest and then roundly ignore their suggestions I tend to think we've about had our day.

And we were so close, too. A century or two from taking that step outwards into the solar system. If we were willing to make the right changes, we might still manage it.

But I tend to doubt it. We're a species that seems bound and determined to kill ourselves off at all costs.

Sixth Estate said...

Uncommoner's right -- the most frustrating thing about this was how close we were.

I've come to the conclusion that humanity will not "kill itself off." We're versatile enough that a few small pockets of people will survive in the more habitable areas, reduced to some sort of post-apocalyptic tribal societies. In a way being reduced to that level is even worse than death.

Of course, statistically speaking, some time within the next 50 million years there will probably be an asteroid or comet that wipes away all the major life forms, so that will do us in. We could have stopped it, but, you know... at least we had a free market and school choice.

NikFromNYC said...

Old Headline: 17 Nobel Laureates Call Out - Is Anybody Listening?

Only eleven are physics/chemistry prizes. Three are medicine, one literature, and two economics. Of the hard scientists, we have work on ion channels, decomposition of ozone (two of them), elementary particles, theory of the strong interaction, magnetoresistance, computational quantum chemistry, fullerenes, superfluidity, W and Z particles. Lots of very highly specialized eggheads, which these days is what leads to hard science awards. So they have rounded up 10 of the 137 living chemistry/physics Nobel Prize winners.

New Headline: 93% of Hard Science Nobelists Decline To Sign Alarmist Manifesto

-=NikFromNYC=- Ph.D. in chemistry (Columbia/Harvard)

NikFromNYC said...
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The Mound of Sound said...

Well Nick, since you purport to have a PhD in chemistry, you're probably well aware how asinine your statements are. "93% of Hard Science Nobelists Decline to Sign Alarmist Manifesto"? Really? And just when did they 'decline' to sign? How many of those Laureates are even still alive? How did someone as addled as you get your supposed PhD? Mail order?

Anonymous said...

"How many of those Laureates are even still alive?"

All of them. That's why I included the adjective "living". In campaigns like this letters go out to all living Nobelists, or do you think they snub most of them, huh?

I received the "top student" honor (Hammett Award) from Columbia for my Ph.D. in chemistry and then spent three years at Harvard as a postdoc, where I also spent lots of time doing collaborative work at MIT.

Anonymous said...

I present The Quick Glance Guide to Global Warming:

sharonapple88 said...

All of them. That's why I included the adjective "living". In campaigns like this letters go out to all living Nobelists, or do you think they snub most of them, huh?

The people who signed it were a part of the symposium. It's questionable whether they would have people who weren't going to be taking part signing it.

Possibly someone could contact the people conducting the symposium on their methods on the letter to get a more solid stand on what's going on.

The wiki list on living Nobel lists appear to have been deleted.

The Mound of Sound said...

Nick, showing really atrocious scientific method, assumes those not participating in the Symposium declined to sign. Yet he doesn't offer the faintest shred of evidence for this supposed refusal.

Surely if 93% chose to decline to endorse what only in Nick's curious mind could be considered a "manifesto" then one would have thought that dissent would be evidenced somehow. Absent that we're left with one of a vast horde of PhD's (I suppose) purporting to speak for hundreds of Nobel Laureates.