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Study: Earth is outside of ‘safe operating space’

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posted on Sep, 24 2009 @ 06:09 PM
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Study: Earth is outside of ‘safe operating space’
Planet taking environmental hits all at once; ‘it’s truly scary in a lot of ways’
www.msnbc.msn.com...

By Emily Sohn
updated 51 minutes ago


We are on the verge of pushing nature into a state of instability like nothing humanity has seen before, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

The study, which attempted for the first time to come up with real numbers for a set of conditions beyond which Earth may not be able to recover, found that we may have already crossed several tipping points.

"This is all about our health and security," said Jonathon Foley, a climatologist and ecologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

"Massive disruptions in climate, ecosystems and so on can have severely negative impacts on things like air quality, pollution levels, pests, emerging diseases and so on."

Excessive global warming, for example, might lead to a rapid rise in sea levels, the collapse of major circulation patterns and drastic changes to regional climates, including more floods and retreating glaciers.

Too much acidification in the oceans, which happens when the seawater absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, makes it difficult for creatures to survive, grow and build shells.

Changes in the way we use land and water resources can turn clear blue lakes into murky green ones, harming wildlife, including the fish we eat.

It's as if humanity is driving a car on top of a mesa with the lights off, said Foley. Stepping on the gas in any direction will send us off a cliff.

"Major disruptions in the environment - such as a hurricane or major drought - can be hugely disruptive to people," added Foley, "and lead to mass migrations, refugee issues, increased disease, etc."

How far is too far?
Foley teamed up with 27 experts from around the world to take a broad look at what they called Earth's "safe operating space." The researchers defined nine categories of risk within that space, including global warming, ocean acidification and stratospheric ozone levels.

By compiling and analyzing whatever previously published work they could find in their particular areas of expertise, the scientists tried to quantify how far is too far.

Their estimates suggest that we have already pushed the planet too hard in at least three ways.

The climate researchers, for example, determined that nature will remain in balance only as long as carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere remain below 350 parts per million, yet CO2 concentrations currently measure about 387 parts per million.

"What we're talking about here is truly scary in a lot of ways," Foley told Discovery News. "We're talking about changes in the environment at a global scale that would change this planet into something we have never seen in all of human history. It's not the end of the world, but it's the end of the world as we know it."

Biodiversity researchers, likewise, estimated that species loss is sustainable only if we lose fewer than 10 species for every million on Earth.

However, species are already disappearing at a rate of 100 species per million and projected rates are 10 times higher than that. Nitrogen outputs from chemical fertilizers and other human activities are already threatening to irreparably damage freshwater and marine ecosystems.

`All of this stuff is hitting the fan'
We are also dangerously close to the thresholds for freshwater use, ocean acidification, and the conversion of forests and other ecosystems into farms and cities. Crossing those lines may lead to a cycle of global catastrophic change.

"Again and again, we find that a little environmental damage is OK," Foley said, but at some point, the planet just can't take it anymore, which is especially true when it's taking multiple hits at once. "In science, we look at one issue at a time. In the real world, all of this stuff is hitting the fan at the same time."

The specific numbers in the study remain estimates, said limnologist Steve Carpenter of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and scientists will likely debate the details of each tipping point for some time.

The important thing for now, he said, is to recognize that nature has hard edges, that we can't just keep abusing the planet forever, and that we know enough now to be very concerned.

"The important contribution of this paper is to point out that the Earth system has guardrails," Carpenter said. "The consequences of driving the Earth system outside the guardrails are beyond human experience, and some of the consequences will be very bad for civilization."

The new report is not all doom and gloom, Foley insisted. If people work hard to come up with innovations and learn to think in more sustainable ways about food, water and energy, he said, it's still possible to bring nature back within its safe operating space.

"The most important lesson from this is that 'wait and see' is a bad environmental policy," Foley said. "We're in real danger of turning this planet into something we won't even recognize. I hope people start to pay attention."




posted on Sep, 24 2009 @ 06:20 PM
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Is this a case for evolution gone awry? I mean, if evolution is correct, only those able to adapt will survive, right?

In other words, if human kind can't adapt, we're not meant to be, right?

[edit on 9/24/2009 by abecedarian]



posted on Sep, 24 2009 @ 06:37 PM
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I take it the Cap and Trade bill is due to be voted on shortly Right? I am really getting tired of the sky is falling hysteria, 50 years of it is enough already!



posted on Sep, 24 2009 @ 10:59 PM
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If anyone takes the time and effort to go and look for themselves at what is happening in our world, then you rapidly come to a couple of disturbing realizations.

The article cited understates the critical state of this biosphere. In natural systems, change is not gradual, it is catastrophic. Living complex systems adapt by remaining apparently stable until they reach a critical point and then undergo a rapid phase transition.

Unfortunately, the population of the earth is distracted with politics, materialism and mindless distracting entertainment. Hollow lives lived by empty people chasing after the latest shiny bauble.

Cap and trade? Far too little to late even it if did happen.

The evidence of the drawing to a close of this age of man is all around us, but we choose not to see it, instead arguing over gay marriage or going to war to kill in the name of a loving god.

Mankind will survive, some of us anyway, and the world will cleanse itself of the damage we are causing. That is not going to go well for us I'm afraid.



posted on Sep, 24 2009 @ 11:18 PM
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Mankind is much like a virus, expanding and multiplying at the expense of it's host; (earth) and much like any other living creature, the planet will seek to purge the sickness for it's own continued survival.

Will it be sudden, (as in the eruption of a super volcano like the one in yellow stone) or something more slow and hard to see coming? (polar shift, world wide viral epidemic etc..) Hard to say, but the question of whether or not it's already "too late" is really a empty one, compared to the more important question of "how can we become less of a virus to the planet?"



posted on Sep, 25 2009 @ 02:07 AM
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S & F. I don't understand how people just don't seem to get the importance of this. Everything is connected. We need our ecosystems and our biosphere to survive as a species. We need other species to survive.



posted on Sep, 25 2009 @ 07:51 AM
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Im pretty sure the earth had more carbon dioxide in the air in the past.

Anyway personally i believe the most dangerous thing that is being done is the actual pollution of the enviroment and the steadily occupying allot of nature.



posted on Sep, 25 2009 @ 09:15 AM
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reply to post by crimvelvet
 


reply to post by tomcat ha
 


WAKE UP. Please. You and your ilk are so frustrating to deal with. Your lacking ability to think about this issue rationally because those who form your opinions for you do so in a manner that ensures you have the narrowest possible perspective on everything.

This article for example is NOT just about climate change. It is about the massive destruction of planetary system across the planets entirety.



"Massive disruptions in climate, ecosystems and so on can have severely negative impacts on things like air quality, pollution levels, pests, emerging diseases and so on."

Excessive global warming, for example...


Just because you doubt the impacts of humans on the obviously changing climate of this planet, can you deny the impacts humans have and are having on the other systems of this planet?

We operate under the premise that we can not have any impact. A premise that at one point in time was true. Human numbers were too small and we were very much like children lost in a vast and dangerous wilderness that engulfed us.

Now we are massive in our size and our ability to impact natural systems is equally massive.

Take a good look around you, the Earth is in trouble and you do not need to believe in global warming to believe this truth. The time to act is long past. There is no time to sit around and blow smoke up your own ass because Rush told you so. WAKE UP.



posted on Sep, 25 2009 @ 09:46 AM
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reply to post by zenius
 





I don't understand how people just don't seem to get the importance of this. Everything is connected. We need our ecosystems and our biosphere to survive as a species. We need other species to survive.


First as I said before one too many idiots yelling "the sky is falling" and you wise up and look behind the curtain.

Second When you live long enough you can compare today and 40 to 50 years ago. If this was said 50 years ago I would certainly agree, that is why I joined Greenpeace and Sierra Club at that time. But I woke up when I found they are all about manipulation and funded by the Rockefellers. and their friends.

The Banks and Oil companies play political Activists like violins. Check out the Father of the environmental movement, friend of Al Gore, Maurice Strong He worked for Rockefeller in Saudi Oil in 1953, was president of a couple oil companies, Chief advisor to the World Bank and trustee to the Rockefeller curtain. It is interesting Strong's Rockefeller/dome oil connections are usually left out of anything written about him.

Strip off the rose colored glasses please. Check out the media control at ATS

The food safety bills and a World Food Monopoly by the likes of Monsanto with its terminator genes are the REAL problem and that is why you do not see anything about it in the main media.



History, HACCP and the Food Safety Con Job
...America saw its agricultural system intentionally subjected to political policies that radically transformed it. What was once a decentralized system that provided a means to self sufficiency and independence for tens of millions of farmers was purposefully centralized into a capital-intensive fossil-fuel dependent system that restructured local economies, permitting their wealth to be extracted by what are now transnational cartels dedicated to the so-called free market and globalized trade at all costs.

This transformation was the result of organized plans developed by a group of highly powerful – though unelected – financial and industrial executives who wanted to drastically change agricultural practices in the US to better serve their collective corporate financial agenda. This group, called the Committee for Economic Development, was officially established in 1942 as a sister organization to the Council on Foreign Relations. CED has influenced US domestic policies in much the same way that the CFR has influenced the nation's foreign policies.



posted on Sep, 25 2009 @ 09:53 AM
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reply to post by Animal
 





Take a good look around you, the Earth is in trouble and you do not need to believe in global warming to believe this truth. The time to act is long past. There is no time to sit around and blow smoke up your own ass because Rush told you so. WAKE UP.


I have woken up I have been looking about me for years and I can see a con job when It is staring me in the face.

I was on this band wagon FORTY YEARS ago when Greenpeace was a gleam in Maurice Strong's Eye. I was a member I donated money and time to environmental clean up. Crap my College thesis was about river pollution and my second thesis about differential solubility of limestone.

It is YOU who can not see behind the obvious.



posted on Sep, 25 2009 @ 10:01 AM
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I am sorry, but do you doubt that the planet is more polluted now then 300 years ago? There was more plastic waste then plankton in lot of areas of oceans and seas? People could not drink from rivers near un-existing factories and power plants? Forests dissapeared just as fast as now?
I do not understand how you can claim this. There are politicians and organizations who use the issue for their own agenda. But the issue still exists ,with them or without.



posted on Sep, 25 2009 @ 10:04 AM
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Originally posted by crimvelvet


It is YOU who can not see behind the obvious.


Enlighten me mate. If you can.

Are you saying the planet Earth is not currently struggling to maintain its many systems? Are you saying we are not currently seeing massive habitat loss and degradation? Are you saying we are not currently seeing massive pollution that is poisoning planetary systems, the planets flora and fauna AND humans? Are you saying we are not seeing a massive epidemic of extinction? Are you sayign we are not currently seeing our waters filled with toxic wastes? Are you saying we are not currently witnessing a massive depletion of arable soils? The list of growing impacts is long my fiend.

But my eyes are closed? In what way?



posted on Sep, 25 2009 @ 11:45 AM
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reply to post by Animal
 


What I am trying to point out is you need to check if there is a double switch being played. Wave an emotional Agenda in front of the activists get them to support it with money and voices and energy while in reality TPTB put in place legislation that ends up doing nothing but filling the bankers/corporate cartels pockets or worse has the exact opposite effect as the activists were aiming for. Biofuel is an Excellent example uses MORE oil not less, record profits for Monsanto and Cargill, increases starvation around the world and the Activist pat themselves on the back for "saving the environment"

ANOTHER EXAMPLE:
We all agree that Monsanto's Terminator gene is bad news for the environment, Correct?

Step back one pace and you find an agent of the USDA stole the gene from India and the USDA helped fund the terminator and spermicidal corn research.

Step back another pace. You find TRIPPS, the Agreement on Ag and the World Trade Organization. Who wrote it? Who pushed it through Congress? You find Pres Clinton and Al Gore and their buddies the CEO of Monsanto, Clinton's Chief foreign Policy Advisor. And US trade delegate, Dan Amstrutz, VP of Cargill who wrote the Agreement on Ag.

Step back another pace and you find the UN and the agreement on Global Biodiversity.

Step back another pace and you find Monsanto forming seed banks while introducing GMO corn in Mexico and cross contaminating corn from the country of origin despite riots and protests from Mexican farmers.

Global Biodiversity sounds so pro-environment doesn't it. Actually I just did a very short outline of the theft of seed genetic from third world countries, the Patenting of those genetics by Monsanto and friends. AND the plan to make the selling or saving of any seed not patented and licensed illegal through out the world. That is what the Global Biodiversity treaty is all about, seed genetics theft and patenting.

Yes there are problems, yes we need solutions but when I find bankers and Corporations behind the media hype I get REAL suspicious. I was at ground zero of a media hype "plastic is evil" campaign supposedly launched by a school teacher. The Media coverage and the reality I KNEW was true because I WAS THERE were 180 degrees out of sync. I have not believed any media hype ever since.



posted on Sep, 25 2009 @ 12:22 PM
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Edit to add: Crimvelvet, I should say sorry for addressing you in such a harsh manner, no one, regardless of their beliefs deserves to be treated in this manner. Whats more, we seem to agree on more than we disagree on, industrialized agriculture and it's ills for one. While I very strongly disagree with your stance on the topic of this thread, I bear no no ill will.


Originally posted by crimvelvet
reply to post by Animal
 


What I am trying to point out is you need to check if there is a double switch being played. Wave an emotional Agenda in front of the activists get them to support it with money and voices and energy...


So your only gripe is what? Honestly it is hard to follow your logic. I know in the following segment of your statement you talk about 'TPTB' making 'laws'. Perhaps it has something to do with that?


...while in reality TPTB put in place legislation that ends up doing nothing but filling the bankers/corporate cartels pockets or worse has the exact opposite effect as the activists were aiming for.


Not true. There has been a host of legislation that has improved environmental quality. You have talked as if you have 'been around for a long time' I am surprised you have not noticed this.

If anything the laws that have been created to protect the environment have been both too little and overly weakened by administrations such as the past Bush administration.



Biofuel is an Excellent example uses MORE oil not less, record profits for Monsanto and Cargill, increases starvation around the world and the Activist pat themselves on the back for "saving the environment"


As an environmentally minded person, and many like me, oppose the mass production of bio-fuels.

Also a deflection from the issue at hand, the incredible degradation of the environment.



ANOTHER EXAMPLE:
We all agree that Monsanto's Terminator gene is bad news for the environment, Correct?


And another detraction for the topic at hand.

let me remind you of what YOU said in your original post:


I take it the Cap and Trade bill is due to be voted on shortly Right? I am really getting tired of the sky is falling hysteria, 50 years of it is enough already!


Clearly an attempt to dismiss the reality and importance of the issue of a degrading and dying environemnt. And now you would spin your way out of the corner you left yourself in with distraction after distraction.

I too an adamantly opposed to Monsanto and its 'terminator' technology and the 'ownership' of genetics. I am opposed to bio-piracy as well.

This is no way detracts from the importance of protecting the environment.



Yes there are problems, yes we need solutions but when I find bankers and Corporations behind the media hype I get REAL suspicious. I was at ground zero of a media hype "plastic is evil" campaign supposedly launched by a school teacher. The Media coverage and the reality I KNEW was true because I WAS THERE were 180 degrees out of sync. I have not believed any media hype ever since.


And your point is what?

Sorry mate but you live in a CAPITALISTIC country. I don't like it, possibly less than you, but I accept that fact. The 'media' the 'banks' and everyone else who is making money in this country has their hands in everything...

Let me guess you haven't sat down to take a crap in 50 years because the banks and corporations produce the toilet paper, toilet, plumbing, and sewage treatment, right?

Your points, while valid in their own right have nothing to do with the topic at hand and are nothing but a desperate attempt to cover the rather merit-less comments you make to begin with.

I asked you to enlighten me on how the environment is NOT in peril and you rant about the ills of corporate agriculture.

Maybe review my TWO PAGE post on the topic. Local Organic Farming: A solution to Industrial Agricutlure

I agree this is a pressing issue but it again has nothing to do with this post.

I do not trust or like corporations.

I do not like or trust the government.

I do not like or trust banks.

But I love and will do everything I can to protect the environment.

It sounds like you need to sort out some personal issues that are preventing you form taking action.

[edit on 25-9-2009 by Animal]

[edit on 25-9-2009 by Animal]



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