“Houston, we have a problem…”

Human population (“the economy”) will gradually surpass our planet’s carrying-capacity, and stress points are already starting to show.

The stress point emerging urgently is global warming, which is already partially upon us and promises to get worse, as mankind is only beginning to slow its greenhouse gas pollution.

Climate failure is the kind of thing that ends civilizations…or at least adds chaos to the world economy and randomly collapses whole regions.  This leads to famine, mass refugees, and constant bush wars between and within failing nations.

Whew.  That sucks…

Changed climate conditions and chaos-effects will suppress entire business sectors or geographical regions, as for example we now see in the American West:  A vast warming-caused bark beetle infestation is killing tens of millions of pines, which in turn is suppressing prices of mountain real estate (because no one wants to buy where forest fire danger is rising, nor risk enormous dead trees falling on their dream home).  A suppressed vacation-economy in the mountains means fewer jobs as well, and pockets of permanent recession.

Worse, risk isn’t merely regional:  With a globalized economy, chaos-effects hold the potential to be contagious, triggering economic depression.

Granted, humans may adapt skillfully where economics are concerned (migration, agricultural methods, smart cities, Lean industry, and the evolution of technologies). But we are helpless witnesses when large natural systems flip to a new equilibrium (atmospheric and oceanic heating, permanent drought, ocean acidification, ice-cap melting and sea level rise, failure of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, and the emerging mass-extinction event).

The latter includes the possibility of unforecastable, chaotic, sudden and catastrophic tipping points, an emergency we must avoid at all costs.

By way of perspective:  There have been only two truly significant events in human history, today’s events being the second:

First truly significant event, then:  During the last Ice Age, human population dropped to only 10,000 people (and at best only 2,000 breeding pairs).  We nearly went extinct.

Second truly significant event, now:  Our civilization is growing so rapidly while polluting so much, we are causing the planet to lurch into a new, hotter, drier state – a new world far less favorable to our survival.  This could easily prove unsustainable for us, as economic-overshoot collides with a collapsing resource base… sadly, a common event seen throughout human history in a number of regional civilizations.

Some adaptation is possible but, ominously, much adaptation is completely out of our reach when large natural systems flip.

We recognize that economics is a subset of ecology, not the other way around…  Earth bats last, and is unsentimental.

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How does one get started saving the planet?  Start by deeply knowing your own sources of personal power:  1) To save the planet, Change Yourself First; 2) To save the planet, Invest Your Working Life; 3) To save the planet, Use Your Voice and take advocacy seriously!  Never miss a chance to vote, and never stop influencing your government and businesses locally, at the state level, and at the national level.  

And in all cases and at all times, cast aside the learned-helplessness that infects so much of modern life…

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© William Murphy and Global Warming for Busy People™, 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to William Murphy and Global Warming for Busy People with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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