Approaching Global Tipping Point Involves Climate Change – Study

Earth could be nearing a real tipping point at which sweeping environmental changes would undermine human welfare, 22 prominent biologists and ecologists warned in a new study published in the journal Nature, reports Justin Gillis at the New York Times.  The problems are familiar by now: they include planetary warming, and human population growth and economic expansion, which continue to demand more energy, food, land, and cut natural landscapes into disconnected patchworks. Humans have already converted close to half of the ice-free global land surface of the planet to raising food and living space. Smaller scale studies indicate that a loss of over 50 percent of natural landscape could trigger collapse of the ecological web that sustains humanity. The scientists are deeply concerned about these many planetary trends and the seeming inability of the world’s political leadership to grapple with them. The situation “scares the hell out of me,” said co-author ecologist James H. Brown, a member of the National Academy of Sciences. “We’ve created this enormous bubble of population and economy… it’s just unsustainable. It’s either got to be deflated gently, or it’s going to burst.”

Sources:

Are we nearing a planetary boundary? The earth could be nearing a point at which sweeping environmental changes, possibly including mass extinctions, would undermine human welfare, 22 prominent biologists and ecologists warned on Wednesday. Justin Gillis, New York Times http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/are-we-nearing-a-planetary-boundary/

Actual study: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v486/n7401/full/nature11018.html Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere, A. D. Barnosky et al, Nature, doi:10.1038/nature11018

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About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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