VII. Pedia Sapiens: A Genesis Future on Earth and in the Heavens
A. The Old Earth: Our Critical Life Support Condition
Although history’s technological advances to alleviate the human condition are laudable and necessary, they have grossly overshot in terms of consumption, energy usage, resource waste, weapons proliferation, and many other insults. What follows is a familiar litany that need be collectively faced if we are ever to achieve a sustainable, unified, cosmically viable bioplanet. Due to self-serving political and economic agendas, much confusion persists about the state of the global dynamic climate. Specific concerns are noted next, with pathways to a better world in following sections.
Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change. http://www.nap.edu/catalog/21852. A 200 page report by the Committee on Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change Attribution, National Academy of Sciences, to be published on September 11, 2016 by the National Academies Press, Washington, DC. An Op-Ed by the meteorologist William Gail on this document in the April 19, 2016 NY Times is entitled A New Dark Age Looms.
As climate has warmed over recent years, a new pattern of more frequent and more intense weather events has unfolded across the globe. Climate models simulate such changes in extreme events, and some of the reasons for the changes are well understood. Warming increases the likelihood of extremely hot days and nights, favors increased atmospheric moisture that may result in more frequent heavy rainfall and snowfall, and leads to evaporation that can exacerbate droughts. The relatively young science of extreme event attribution seeks to tease out the influence of human-cause climate change from other factors, such as natural sources of variability like El Nino, as contributors to individual extreme events. This report examines the current state of science of extreme weather attribution, and identifies ways to move the science forward to improve attribution capabilities. (Summary)
Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.. www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2.. The consummate March 31 Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC, based on a “Worldwide Scientific Collaboration” of 309 lead authors from 70 countries, along with 436 contributing authors and 1,729 reviewers. And March did not go out as a lamb, per the old adage, but with ever erratic storms, droughts, floods, records set around the globe. From this site can be accessed all the details and comments. From Greenland’s glacier melt to Bangladesh inundations, beyond just warming, a biospheric calamity is gaining precipitous reality. We ignore at our gravest peril.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a Report today that says the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans. The world, in many cases, is ill-prepared for risks from a changing climate. The report also concludes that there are opportunities to respond to such risks, though the risks will be difficult to manage with high levels of warming. The document details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks. The nature of the risks of climate change is increasingly clear, though climate change will also continue to produce surprises. The report identifies vulnerable people, industries, and ecosystems around the world. It finds that risk from a changing climate comes from vulnerability (lack of preparedness) and exposure (people or assets in harm’s way) overlapping with hazards (triggering climate events or trends). Each of these three components can be a target for smart actions to decrease risk. (IPCC)
, . Earth 2100: Is This the Final Century of Our Civilization?. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Earth2100. A two hour presentation of a ‘worse-case scenario’ across the narrated 90 year life span of Lucy, born January 1, 2009, as civilization collapses under a siege of pestilence, epidemics, drought, lawlessness, migrations, along with breakdowns of energy, communication, and governmental infrastructures, and other niceties. Much credence is added by concerned thinkers such as Jared Diamond, Janine Benyrus, Eugene Linden, and others. Although the final ten minutes broaches an alternative scenario, it offers the usual techno-fixes, without facing that social lifestyles and infrastructures based on greed and guns need to become far more community-based and empathically tolerant. One worries over a spate of similar, inappropriate programs such as After Armageddon, Nostradamus Prophesies, The World after People, without ever any imagination of a greater genesis that could inform and guide an organic future.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. www.millenniumassessment.org. This group initiated in 2001 by the United Nations to evaluate the viable ecological health of the planet has now issued its main 2005 report. As quoted below, soil and water systems, timber and fuel resources, and so on are under severe stress by unsustainable growth and consumption. An overview titled Ecosystems and Human Well-Being is published by Island Press, 2005. This document is backed by a four volume series of scenarios, policies, extensive findings, and so on, also available from Island Press.
The bottom line of the MA findings is that human actions are depleting Earth’s natural capital, putting such strain on the environment that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted. At the same time, the assessment shows that with appropriate actions it is possible to reverse the degradation of many ecosystem services over the next 50 years, but the changes in policy and practice required are substantial and not currently underway.
U. S. Climate Change Science Program. www.climatescience.gov. This is the website to access the August 2004 report Our Changing Planet by this Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research. The document is seen as significant because through sophisticated computer analysis it achieves the strongest evidence yet that a sharp rise in global temperatures has in fact occurred and is due to human influences such as greenhouse gases. Although accepted for the first time by the Bush administration, required cuts in emissions are still not being mandated. (New York Times. August 31, 2004, p. D3.)
U. S. Climate Change Science Program. www.climatescience.gov. At this website can be accessed the August 2004 report Our Changing Planet by its Subcommittee on Global Change Research. The document is seen as significant because it presents the strongest evidence so far that a sharp rise in global temperature has in fact occurred due to human influence such as greenhouse gases. Although finally accepted by the Bush administration, required cuts in emissions are still not said to be mandated. (See also New York Times. August 31, 2004.)
Alley, R., et al. Abrupt Climate Change. Science. 299/2005, 2003. There is an ominous realization that the problem is much worse than slow warming. In fact a sudden shift in a decade or so to a much warmer – or colder – climate set point, accompanied by extreme weather and major ecological impacts, is increasingly possible.
Allison, Graham. Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe. New York: Times Books/Henry Holt, 2004. Although the danger of an acute nuclear holocaust has lessened, a chronic threat of immense carnage remains and intensifies from nuclear weapons in the possession of all manner of rogue, disenfranchised and aggrieved groups, militancies, fundamentalists and nations. Allison, a noted Harvard authority on the subject, sharply discerns terrorist motives, weapon proliferation and paths to resolution.
Allison, Graham, ed. Confronting the Specter of Nuclear Terrorism. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 607, 2006. The nuclear genie returns as the existing proliferation of weapons become stolen, lost, or sold to “terrorists,” or rogue nations manage to make their own bombs. A distinguished panel, including Senator Sam Nunn, confront in detail this mega-threat and conclude that progressive alternatives are needed to defuse the perceived or real grievances of such outlaw groups.
Alvarez-Ramirez, Jose, et al. Scale Invariance in the 2003-2005 Iraq Conflict. Physica A. 377/1, 2007. Even the horrific carnage of such irrational male warfare can be found to have a common mathematical and geometrical basis. Could humankind’s nascent discovery of a legible nature as a greater creation finally initiate a new phase of salutary wisdom. Tribal conflicts large and small persist some 10 millennia later in this cradle of civilization for we are not one wit wiser, and are now escalating to games of nuclear chicken.
The number of reported social systems that apparently display power-law correlations (i.e., scale-free patterns) has increased dramatically in recent years, ranging from city growth and economics to global terrorism. (291) Using the set of violence events in the 2003-2005 Iraq stabilization phase, existence of scale-free patterns in event fatalities is shown.
Bancroft Hunt, Norman. Historical Atlas of Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Checkmark Books, 2004. An illustrated story of the appearance of human settlements in this legendary cradle of civilization, a era from 3,000 BC to 500 AD marred by constant tribal and regional warfare. The book is noted because some 5,000 years later the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers which is now modern Iraq remains beset by warfare and carnage, today with a global occasion. An obsessive militarism prepares to drop the “mother of all bombs” on this cradle, with nuclear munitions in the works. World civilizations appear not a whit wiser, even worse for we should know better. Has nothing been learned in five millennia, is a common, salutary knowledge yet possible at this late hour?
Bostrom, Nick and Milan Cirkovic, eds. Global Catastrophic Risks. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Some 25 get-it-done guys address the plethora of dangers that loom from rogue nanotech and future warlords to visiting asteroids and a hostile, degenerate cosmos. Cirkovic’s chapter on Observation Selection Effects is as usual incisive, but the effort labors in an alien universe where our valiant intelligences remain of no account.