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VII. Pedia Sapiens: A Genesis Future on Earth and in the Heavens

A. The Old Earth: Our Critical Life Support Condition

Kunstler, James. The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005. The artificial bubble of cheap oil is finally bursting which will bring the demise predicted by Malthus some two centuries ago of population outrunning resources. After providing much documentation for this scenario, the veteran journalist offers ways that individuals and societies can sensibly adapt to sustain a decent local and global life style.

Lawton, J., et al, eds. Abrupt Climate Change. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A. 361/3, 2003. An introduction to a special issue to explore the realisation that rather than a gradual warming or cooling, climates can drastically shift their attractor point over just a few years. Typical subjects are paleoclimate data, temperatures of the North Atlantic and sea-ice ratios.

Leiderman, S. Discovering the “New World” of Environmental Refugees. International Conference on Complex Systems. May 23, 2000. The slow apocalypse of habitat destruction due to more volatile weather such as the floods that devasted Mozambique drives an exodus to the shrinking percentage of livable areas, a “remainder earth scenario.” The author, from the Natural Resources Dept. of the University of New Hampshire, warns we are in a race between a corrective mentality and irrevocable loss.

Letcher, Trevor, ed. Climate Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2015. A University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban, RSA environmental chemist edits a comprehensive, 600 page collection from Climate Change Through Earth’s History by Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams to Arctic Sea Ice (David Schroeder(, Bird Ecology (Wolfgang Fiedler, Sea Life Ecosystems (Martin Edwards) to Lichens, Acidification, Plant Pathogens, Aerosols, Solar Radiation, Agriculture, and all else.

Climate Change: Observed Impacts on Planet Earth serves as a broad, accessible guide to the science behind this often political and heated debate by providing scientific detail and evidence in language that is clear to both the climatologist and the non-specialist. The book contains 35 chapters on all scientific aspects of climate change, written by the world's authority of each particular subject. It collects the latest information on all of these topics in one volume. In this way, readers can make connections between the various topics covered in the book, leading to new ways of solving problems and looking at related issues. The book also contains major references and details for further research and understanding on all issues related to climate change, giving a clear indication of a looming crisis in global warming and climate change. (Publisher)

Levy, Barry and Victor Sidel, eds. Terrorism and Public Health. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. In an age of economic and conceptual discontinuities leading to vicarious acts of terror, much of which is fueled by the proliferation of weaponry, 19 papers on how the global public health system can respond and cope.

Linden, Eugene. The Winds of Change. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. A much documented cautionary work within an epochal historical view braced by carefully marshalled evidence.

Long, Douglas. Global Warming. New York: Facts on File, 2004. Called a Library in a Book, the work is intended as a one-stop introduction to the subject: 60 page overview, annotated books, who’s who, legal issues, glossary and so on.

Lovelock, James. The Revenge of Gaia. New York: Basic Books, 2006. The atmospheric chemist and environmentalist founded the now accepted and applied theory that for a billion years earth’s biosphere regulated its compositional, radiative and thermal properties for optimum benefit. But this latest book is a forceful statement that human impacts have so stressed these vital systems as to push them to or beyond the verge of collapse. Lovelock has earlier written of a “geophysiology, by this appropriate metaphor, our special planet as a locus of life and mind is in terminal peril of sickening and dying.

Published in the UK in February, the work has gained some notoriety for its endorsement of nuclear energy, if properly designed, built and managed as Japan and France have done. Renewable approaches such as wind and solar are not adequate nor will be ready in time. Seemingly out of character, the idea has taken root and is leading to a cautious rethinking of energy policy to effectively cut greenhouse gases and climate catastrophe.

Lovelock, James. The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning. New York: Basic Books, 2009. Once more the July 2009 nonagenarian provides one of the most lucid diagnosis of the biosphere’s critical condition. Due to dire, unprecedented human impacts, a palliative geophysiological (Gaiacare?) medicine and ethics is recommended. But is it his British mein that inhibits even such a visionary from allowing any special place or innate purpose to human beings or earth? People are another “transient Darwinian species” without seeing how this dour surmise undercuts and saps any such valiant remedies.

Martin, James. The Meaning of the 21st Century. New York: Riverhead Books, 2006. An authority on how technology can impact society contends that a pivotal moment of global closure has been reached when the convergent course of evolution and history can pass into sustainable, respectful human management. A good survey of the many environmental and cultural dilemmas, along with practical pathways toward resolution. We need to be aware there is a problem, a plethora of challenges, which can be addressed if humankind applies itself. But the book makes much of technological fixes without a sense, the very idea, of an abiding cosmic creation as a source and guide.

Mason, Colin. The 2030 Spike: Countdown to Global Catastrope. London: Earthscan Publications, 2003. An international diplomat and author sees this decade as the time when all bills come due. The book surveys the usual areas such as energy use, famine, disease along with an indulgent, misinformed culture unable to cope. Part Four: “The New Society?” cites an evident response if humans are to survive.

The decade from 2030 will see a remarkable and dangerous confluence of world events and trends – a spike on the groph paper of life that will influence humanity for good or ill as never before. Combatting the worst effects of this will require urgent action, informed by the clearest possible understanding of where we are now and where we might go. (3)

Mathias, Jean-Denis, et al. On Our Rapidly Shrinking Capacity to Comply with the Planetary Boundaries on Climate Change. Nature Scientific Reports. 7/42061, 2017. We cite this entry by Arizona State University environmentalists as an example of worldwide research projects to quantify what human beings are doing to the biosphere before it is too late. We are cutting it much too close, and even such analysis will need a public awareness and concerted efforts to remediate. For another entry see Sustainability, Collapse and Oscillations of Global Climate, Population and Economy in a Whole Earth Model at arXiv:1702:01050. In addition the journals Earth System Dynamics, Ecological Economics, Global Change Biology, and Sustainability Science contain many more contributions.

The planetary boundary framework constitutes an opportunity for decision makers to define climate policy through the lens of adaptive governance. Here, we use the DICE model to analyze the set of adaptive climate policies that comply with the two planetary boundaries related to climate change: (1) staying below a CO2 concentration of 550 ppm until 2100 and (2) returning to 350 ppm in 2100. Our results enable decision makers to assess the following milestones: (1) a minimum of 33% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2055 in order to stay below 550 ppm by 2100 (this milestone goes up to 46% in the case of delayed policies); and (2) carbon neutrality and the effective implementation of innovative geoengineering technologies (10% negative emissions) before 2060 in order to return to 350 ppm in 2100, under the assumption of getting out of the baseline scenario without delay. Finally, we emphasize the need to use adaptive path-based approach instead of single point target for climate policy design. (Abstract)

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