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A welcome dose of environmental optimism

A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby Graeme » Sun 05 Jul 2015, 18:38:01

A welcome dose of environmental optimism

From rainforest revival and green technology to social changes, the age of humans is not necessarily a one-way ticket to eco-disaster, argue three new books

OPTIMISM is in the air. Some environmentalists are shrugging off their perennial doom and gloom, and daring to think the possible – that we are not done for. After half a century of despair since the publication of Silent Spring, The Limits to Growth and The Population Bomb, the green shoots of ecological redemption can sometimes be seen between hard covers. It is a welcome relief.

In On The Edge, Claude Martin, former director of environmental group WWF International, remembers that back in the 1980s, forest biologists like him warned that the loss of pristine rainforests was driving tens of thousands of species to extinction. Yet it wasn't so. His magisterial review of the state of those forests concedes that the "pessimistic projections", which assumed that species would be lost as fast as forest area, have proved false.

Most species in these habitats survive even in the face of rampant deforestation. Puerto Rico lost 99 per cent of its primary forests but just seven bird species, and today has more species than before, he says. And thanks in part to reseeding by alien species, old forests are starting to grow again.


Last year, fewer countries were tied to legally binding international targets for cutting carbon emissions than for almost two decades. Even so, a record 60 per cent of new investment in electricity generation was spent on renewables. Fixing climate change, Stern says, is no longer a "zero-sum game". There is no burden to share; played right, everyone can win.

The trouble is that many people haven't noticed. Too many governments pump trillions of dollars into subsidies to prop up uneconomic fossil-fuel industries, and then turn up at international negotiations convinced that every cut in carbon emissions they concede will be a defeat for their national interests. Stern doesn't say so, but it may be that the language of burden-sharing at the core of UN climate talks is becoming part of the problem rather than the solution.

In End Game, academics Anthony Barnosky and Elizabeth Hadly eloquently lay out the ecological perils we face, deftly showing how they might segue into food and water shortages, disease, resource wars and mass migrations. "Life would go on, but there would be a lot more losers than winners," they write. But they, too, conjure good news from the crisis. Their subtitle, "Tipping point for planet Earth?", refers not just to nature's potential implosion under human assault, but also to positive tipping points in human responses.

Like nature, we can fight what once seemed inevitable. As the authors explain, family sizes have become radically smaller, defusing population bombs; rich societies are reaching "peak stuff" as people spend spare cash on "experiences rather than things"; agriculture can become far more efficient; and recycling can both end pollution and stem resource shortages.

Political will has produced major changes for the better before, they note. Slavery mostly ended in the 19th century, and the 20th century brought a green revolution that doubled global food production in a generation. Now we know the challenges for the 21st century; we just need to act.


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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby Apneaman » Sun 05 Jul 2015, 20:14:42

Optimism, like pessimism, is an emotional state of mind and neither one has any bearing on the laws of physics, chemistry or biology. I look at the data and changes I can clearly see from paying attention and not one bit of it makes me feel optimistic, but I'm open. I will just need to see the proof. Something like the laws of physics magically reversing themselves and/or a vent hole opening up in the sky so the CO2 can exhaust into space and then a super wizard who can stop the planetary inertia that is already baked in and restore the oceans Ph. If anyone actually drops any cash on those environmental cargo cult fairy tale books, please bump me hip to the happy facts I missed. I bet they are just full of words and phrases like "we must" "we need to" "political will" "Policy change" "by 2100" "technology" (not yet invented) and If If If if if if...

Humanity to keep tweeting positive slogans until point of extinction


http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/envi ... 5062299489
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby americandream » Sun 05 Jul 2015, 20:22:52

Apneaman wrote:Optimism, like pessimism, is an emotional state of mind and neither one has any bearing on the laws of physics, chemistry or biology. I look at the data and changes I can clearly see from paying attention and not one bit of it makes me feel optimistic, but I'm open. I will just need to see the proof. Something like the laws of physics magically reversing themselves and/or a vent hole opening up in the sky so the CO2 can exhaust into space and then a super wizard who can stop the planetary inertia that is already baked in and restore the oceans Ph. If anyone actually drops any cash on those environmental cargo cult fairy tale books, please bump me hip to the happy facts I missed. I bet they are just full of words and phrases like "we must" "we need to" "political will" "Policy change" "by 2100" "technology" (not yet invented) and If If If if if if...

Humanity to keep tweeting positive slogans until point of extinction


http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/envi ... 5062299489


Yep. Anything to avoid facing up to the sacrifices that really need to be made.

Ah well, positive tweeting, bud.
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby Apneaman » Sun 05 Jul 2015, 20:47:59

As Alaska burns, Anchorage sets new records for heat and lack of snow


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/cap ... ign=buffer


Arctic temps warmer than Miami? We have a serious methane problem!

"Current Arctic Weather Conditions

According to Arctic News, as of July 2nd, “While the media gives wide coverage to the heat waves that have been hitting populous countries such as India, Pakistan, the U.S., Spain and France recently, less attention is given to heat waves hitting the Arctic.”

Furthermore, “The heat waves that hit Alaska and Russia recently are now followed up by a heat wave in East Siberia… a location well within the Arctic Circle… temperatures as high as 37.1°C (98.78°F) were recorded on July 2, 2015.”

And, even more, “With temperatures as high as the 37.1°C (98.78°F) recorded on July 2, 2015, huge melting can be expected where there still is sea ice in the waters off the coast of Siberia, while the waters where the sea ice is already gone will warm up rapidly. Note that the waters off the coast of Siberia are less than 50 m (164 ft.) deep, so warming can quickly extend all the way down to the seabed, that can contain enormous amounts of methane in the form of free gas and hydrates.”

Also, on July 1, 2015, a temperature of 36°C (96.8°F) was recorded near the Kolyma River that flows into the East Siberian Sea.

The Arctic is hotter than Miami!

Somehow or other, 98°F in the Arctic makes the world seem upside down/sideways. Is it?"



http://www.ukprogressive.co.uk/arctic-t ... 40671.html
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby Apneaman » Sun 05 Jul 2015, 23:55:25

Germany Breaks its All-Time Heat Record

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMa ... rynum=3034
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby Apneaman » Mon 06 Jul 2015, 00:38:04

Graph of the Day: World arable land per capita, 1961-2012

http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2015/07 ... d-per.html
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby Apneaman » Mon 06 Jul 2015, 00:39:58

The oceans can’t take any more: researchers fear a fundamental change in the oceans – even if greenhouse emissions are successfully reduced

http://www.awi.de/en/news/press_release ... 5aedb5f5ee
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby onlooker » Mon 06 Jul 2015, 03:37:32

Sorry to say these positives referred to are just sporadic trends in a cascading and accelerating set of doom trends. As AP stated optimism and pessimism are just state of minds we should endeavor to dispassionately analyze the facts and data. Upon doing so many here realize that Earth is in bad shape and getting worse. Until I see a complete halt and reversal in the way humans are acting rather then talking , I see no reason to be optimistic.
“"If you think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath while counting your money"”
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby americandream » Mon 06 Jul 2015, 03:43:56

onlooker wrote:Sorry to say these positives referred to are just sporadic trends in a cascading and accelerating set of doom trends. As AP stated optimism and pessimism are just state of minds we should endeavor to dispassionately analyze the facts and data. Upon doing so many here realize that Earth is in bad shape and getting worse. Until I see a complete halt and reversal in the way humans are acting rather then talking , I see no reason to be optimistic.


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Re: Global Warming / Climate Changes Pt. 19

Unread postby dohboi » Wed 09 Aug 2017, 10:11:05

Not sure where to post this. Food for thought:

When optimism spells disaster

https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/optimism/

One of the most dangerous threats to the human future in this, the Age of Perils, is … optimism...

To overcome them humanity doesn’t need optimism or pessimism. It needs to exercise a singular attribute that has stood us in good stead for over a million years: wisdom.
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Thu 10 Aug 2017, 01:22:28

dohboi - "It needs to exercise a singular attribute that has stood us in good stead for over a million years: wisdom." I might offer a more pessimistic view: wisdom (IOW knowledge of what's causing the problem) is not relevant if there's significant motivation of self interest to keep carrying on as we have been. IOW if every CC denier suddenly became a believer would we really see much effort to veer from BAU. Even the believers can't preach from the highest mountain top knowing that it will do little good and can thus continue benefiting from BAU.

Go ahead...make day, punk. LOL. Prove me wrong. IOW look how long the facts have been laid out. And yet in recent years the world has burned more fossil fuels then ever before.
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Thu 10 Aug 2017, 13:15:43

ROCKMAN wrote:dohboi - "It needs to exercise a singular attribute that has stood us in good stead for over a million years: wisdom." I might offer a more pessimistic view: wisdom (IOW knowledge of what's causing the problem) is not relevant if there's significant motivation of self interest to keep carrying on as we have been. IOW if every CC denier suddenly became a believer would we really see much effort to veer from BAU. Even the believers can't preach from the highest mountain top knowing that it will do little good and can thus continue benefiting from BAU.

Go ahead...make day, punk. LOL. Prove me wrong. IOW look how long the facts have been laid out. And yet in recent years the world has burned more fossil fuels then ever before.

Yup. Our only chance is if green tech like EV's change the economic picture enough and soon enough to make burning FAR less FF's in peoples' self-interest.

If that happens very quickly, that MIGHT give us a chance to develop technologies to actually get rid of excess CO2 (like the electric leaf concept I keep reading about -- i.e. Star Trek technology compared to what is viable today) to actually mitigate the problem. (But since those won't be used unless the problems from AGW are BAD enough to convince TPTB to spend lots of money, that seems like a long shot).

Given how slowly we make progress, due to almost zero economic incentives from the governments (i.e. US, collectively), I'm not at all optimistic it won't be far too late.

But it's possible. My concern is for future generations. Pushing 60, I'll very probably have more issues with health in the next couple decades to worry about. For my neices and nephews under 30, and especially their kids, I believe the AGW problems are going to be front and center, impacting their lives in a major way when they're old.
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby Cog » Thu 10 Aug 2017, 14:22:41

onlooker wrote:Sorry to say these positives referred to are just sporadic trends in a cascading and accelerating set of doom trends. As AP stated optimism and pessimism are just state of minds we should endeavor to dispassionately analyze the facts and data. Upon doing so many here realize that Earth is in bad shape and getting worse. Until I see a complete halt and reversal in the way humans are acting rather then talking , I see no reason to be optimistic.


The earth is easily supporting over 7 billion humans. How bad of a shape can it possibly be in?
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Re: A welcome dose of environmental optimism

Unread postby pstarr » Thu 10 Aug 2017, 17:38:33

There have been wondrous environmental successes all over the world. Here in the United States the Great Lakes (and other inland and coastal ecosystems) are cleaned up/protected, stable wolf populations have reappeared over much of the northwest, and mountain lions are holding their own, even spreading into the Midwest and possibly the east coast. Chernobyl is a wildlife haven. Wildlife corridors and sanctuaries are established to protect legacy ecosystems.

Likewise in other 1st world countries. Sadly the same can not be said re our resource/manufacturing colonies (ie China et al) We demand their stuff, they oblige. One can only hope that committed environmentalist elsewhere will also win great victories in the future, especially as globalism and trade lift their boats. It's human nature to love wildness.

The really amazingly good news (for the environment. not so much for humanity) is that the abuse ends when we run out of oil. Then the wholesale logging, monocropping, mining, and suburbanization ends. In a wink of our eyes. Good times for the birds and bees. :-D 8)
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