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The 'Anthropocene Era'
Time for 2017
- Curbing climate change has a dollar value — here’s how and why we (in the US) measure it
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The nuclear age brings with it the power to destroy life on Earth in apocalyptic, existential terms:
New, more lethal, 'smart', 'usable' tactical and strategic nuclear weapons
re: Cold War 2.0 / Cold War 2.0 Accelerates
- Calculus of War; Cold War 2.0; Nuclear Weapons; Nuclear Proliferation
- J. Robert Oppenheimer at the Trinity site in New Mexico as the first atomic bomb is tested: "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
- The power of science gone to 'the dark side' is, without question, a turning point in history.
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Surviving the Challenge of Anthropocentric Politics (What's In It for Me) and Business-as-Usual
Money, Politics and Policy: A moment-in-time and money-in-politics - "Fossil fuel millionaires pumped more than $100 million into Republican presidential super PACs last year. This means that $1 out of every $3 donated to Republican candidates coming from hyper-rich individuals came from people who made their fortunes from fossil fuels. In boosting GOP politicians, these funders were simply acting to protect their cash cows from those of us who happen to give a damn about the planet."
"A recent report in March 2016 by the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows that more than six out of every 10 Americans are represented by someone in Congress who denies the reality of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (sometimes referred to as ACD or AGW as in anthropogenic global warming and CAGW - catastrophic anthropogenic global warming). According to the report, 59 percent of the Republican House caucus and an amazing 70 percent of the Republicans in the Senate deny ACD is real. The report also reveals that, according to the US Census, 202,803,591 Americans are represented by an ACD denier."
"The general public is way ahead of Congress — a recent poll found that 76 percent of Americans said they believed global climate change is occurring, including 59 percent of Republicans... and nationally 67 percent support President Obama’s plan to regulate power plants to cut carbon emissions."
US Congress: Politics Against Consensus Science
- House Republicans act in opposition to Earth Science and Environmental Security
Money-in-Politics: Fossil Fuel Companies and Lobbying Against the Science of ACD
Money-in-Politics: Energy Industry Dominates Energy Policy
- Millions spent annually to influence lawmakers and public discourse on climate change
- Subsidies to the oil/gas industry continue in the billions
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"Runaway Climate Change": Politics and Powerful Interests
The largest corporations in the world and the current energy mix assure continued ACD. Yet everyday the reports and results of Earth Science demonstrate the approaching environmental security crisis. Immediate eco-nomic change in the energy mix is necessary to begin to reduce human-caused impacts with growing risks and rising costs to the environment. Environmental security and national security join together as nations move forward with renewable energy and sustainable economics.
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- Anthrocene or Anthropocene? Anthropogenic or Anthropogenically?
Anyway you look at these self-centered words, you and your billions of fellow 'anthro-inhabitants' (planet citizens) are having an unprecedented human impact on Earth's ecology...
When GreenPolicy began at Green Institute, one of our advisors was Bill McKibben, author of "End of Nature". Our point of view brought a larger-than-self perspective, recognizing the dawning and daunting fact that humans had entered a new age, one where we could no longer speak of nature as 'apart' from humanity, where writers and poets would speak of nature as distinct and separate force 'beyond' us all.
The "End of Nature" focused on this new deep reality, where we become aware of our responsibilities for what we have created and, as many societies and cultures and 'good books' have spoken of throughout history, the need to learn and re-learn, generation to generation, the ancient wisdom of 'what goes around comes around' and we will, for good or bad, 'reap what is sown.'
- "Whatever we once thought Nature was — wildness, God, a simple place free from human thumbprints, or an intricate machinery sustaining life on Earth — we have now given it a kick that will change it forever. Humanity has stepped across a threshold. In his free-ranging and provocative book, Bill McKibben explores the philosophies and technologies that have brought us here, and he shows how final a crossing we have made."
- — James Gleick, author of Chaos
- "Bill McKibben's The End of Nature deals with humanity's effect on our natural environment the same way that Jonathan Schell's Fate of the Earth presented the harsh facts of the potential nuclear destruction of life. Both books left me better informed, deeply saddened and wondering if the human species has too much natural ability to dominate (each other and our environment) without the wisdom to use such abilities for the promotion of life."
- — Christine Peringer, "Peace and Environment News"
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Altering the Planet
Stephen Hawking / ITV:
- On 'Runaway climate change'... A rise in ocean temperature would melt the ice-caps, and cause a release of large amounts of carbon dioxide from the ocean floor... That would have catastrophic effects." #AGW #CAGW
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"It's All Connected" (And You Are Too...)
Humans and their creations/products/industries/developments/lifestyles/extractions and emissions are having a profound impact on the planet, an impact science is beginning to measure and assess. As it is, the human species no longer stands 'outside' the forces of nature (if we ever did) but rather we are now impacting and changing the patterns and dynamics of nature going forward.
... On climate humans are impacting ... on agriculture, oceans, air and water, forests and fisheries, species and varieties ... food chains beginning with the least of creatures (phytoplankton and die-offs) to the large, recognizably endangered mammals ... the modern, industrial activities of humankind are shifting the geologic era in which we live. Anthro-genetics drive us, so to speak, and we will continue to shift future dynamics of nature, changing systems over time as we develop and populations surge. The extent of humanity's impact on the planet is only now beginning to be measured, with baseline data and science surveying the extent and depth of change -- and the resulting impacts on natural systems are sending flashing, warning signals. The evidence is strong and, apart from those in denial, the evidence is resonating strongly, suggesting it is time to act to sustain the biosphere and environmental systems on which our quality of life depends.
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Speaking of Extinction and Economic Challenges
Economics and Eco-nomics
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Time is divided by geologists according to marked shifts in Earth’s state. Recent global environmental changes suggest that Earth may have entered a new human-dominated geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Here we review the historical genesis of the idea and assess anthropogenic signatures in the geological record against the formal requirements for the recognition of a new epoch. The evidence suggests that of the various proposed dates two do appear to conform to the criteria to mark the beginning of the Anthropocene: 1610 and 1964. The formal establishment of an Anthropocene Epoch would mark a fundamental change in the relationship between humans and the Earth system.
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Earth360 / Earth Science / EarthPOV:
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Back to the Anthrocene
In 1992, the science writer Andrew Revkin – in his book Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast – coined the term “Anthrocene” to describe a new geological era dominated by the actions of humans. Slideshare
More recently, he has quoted from his book: “We are entering an age that might someday be referred to as, say, the Anthrocene. After all, it is a geological age of our own making. The challenge now is to find a way to act that will make geologists of the future look upon this age as a remarkable time, a time in which a species began to take into account the long-term impact of its actions.” It now appears that like all respectable geological eras, the Anthrocene will be clearly identifiable as a distinct transition in the stratigraphy of the rocks that will make up that future world.
Over the past 200 years, the oceans have absorbed about half of the Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a by-product of burning fossil fuels such as oil and gas. Researcher’s form the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US have been monitoring the acidifying effect that this additional Carbon dioxide is having on the oceans, and have found a detectable decline in pH. Studies by other groups indicate that even small changes in pH have detrimental consequences on species that build their shells out of calcium carbonate, and particularly those in cold water ecosystems, which appear to be sensitive to levels of acidification that could occur in the oceans over the next few decades. These organisms; including sea urchins, cold-water corals, coralline algae, and plankton known as pteropods, provide essential food and habitat to others, their demise could affect entire ocean ecosystems.
The calcite shells of these creatures are also the raw material from which limestone rock is formed, a fact that could result in the beginning of the “Anthrocene” era made visible to future geologists as a stratigraphic boundery, formed by reduced limestone formation, and a period of mass extinction in the oceans. It seems that humans could now be changing the very bed-rock of the planet on which they live; it is a very remarkable time indeed!
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- The Word
... from the Greek ἄνθρωπος anthropos, "human"
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- Welcome Anthro
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- Guides to the Anthropocene
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Globaia - http://globaia.org/about/
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- Anthropogenic, anthropogenically
Mourning Our Planet: Climate Scientists Share Their Grieving Process
Anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD)... both as victims - fragile human beings – and as perpetrators: We are the species responsible for altering the climate system of the planet we inhabit to the point of possibly driving ourselves extinct...
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The 6th Extinction
Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of the new book The Sixth Extinction. It begins with a history of the "big five" extinctions of the past, and goes on to explain how human behavior is creating a sixth one — including our use of fossil fuels and the effects of climate change.
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Naomi Klein, "This Changes Everything" Naomi Klein speaks at the Bioneers Conference
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- Mass extinctions and ocean acidification
Primary causes of mass extinctions are linked in various ways to the carbon cycle in general and ocean chemistry in particular with clear association with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
The prospect of ocean acidification is potentially the most serious of all predicted outcomes of anthropogenic carbon dioxide increase.
Acidification has the potential to trigger a sixth mass extinction event and to do so independently of anthropogenic extinctions that are currently taking place.
"Human beings are now carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past nor be reproduced in the future."
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Natural Capital & Externalities
Grist -- grist for thought... (2013) -- The notion of “externalities” has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs.
If we take the idea seriously, not just as an accounting phenomenon but as a deep description of current human practices, its implications are positively revolutionary.
[Begin by reviewing] a Natural Capital & Externalities Report conducted by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors. (“Natural capital” refers to ecological materials and services like, say, clean water or a stable atmosphere; “unpriced” means that businesses don’t pay to consume them.)
It’s a huge task; obviously, doing it required a specific methodology that built in a series of assumptions. (Plenty of details in the report.) But it serves as an important signpost pointing the way to the truth about externalities.
Here’s how those costs break down:
The majority of unpriced natural capital costs are from greenhouse gas emissions (38%), followed by water use (25%), land use (24%), air pollution (7%), land and water pollution (5%), and waste (1%).
So how much is that costing us? Trucost’s headline results are fairly stunning.
First, the total unpriced natural capital consumed by the more than 1,000 “global primary production and primary processing region-sectors” amounts to $7.3 trillion a year — 13 percent of 2009 global GDP.
Second... Surprising no one, coal is the enemy of the human race. Trucost compiled rankings, both of the top environmental impacts and of the top industrial culprits.
The biggest single environmental cost? Greenhouse gases from coal burning in China. The fifth biggest? Greenhouse gases from coal burning in North America.
Trucost’s third big finding is the coup de grace. Of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated. Ponder that for a moment: None of the world’s top industrial sectors would be profitable if they were paying their full freight. Zero.
Coal power generation in Eastern Asia, which generates revenues of $443.1bn, has a natural capital cost of $452.8bn (that's unpriced natural capital – the report already takes into account the various ways in which industries are forced to price in their externalities), largely due to greenhouse gases. Cattle ranching in South America, with revenues of $16.6bn, has capital cost of $353.8bn, due to the unpriced cost of land use. And so on.
You can quibble the figures – and doubtless many will – but what is clear is they are large. Really, really large. Many of the biggest industries in the world can only exist because they don't have to pay the true environmental cost of what they do. The word "unsustainable" is thrown around too much these days, but it seems to fit here.
Natural Capital at Risk: The Top 100 Externalities of Business
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Anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD)
"Apparently, impending catastrophe doesn't mean much to some of the United States' wealthiest people. Once again a report has arisen documenting how fossil fuel millionaires pumped more than $100 million into Republican presidential super PACs last year. That means that $1 out of every $3 donated to Republican candidates coming from hyper-rich individuals came from people who made their fortunes from fossil fuels. In boosting GOP politicians, these funders were simply acting to protect their cash cows from those of us who happen to give a damn about the planet.
"A recent report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund shows that more than six out of every 10 Americans are represented by someone in Congress who denies the reality of ACD. According to the report, 59 percent of the Republican House caucus and an amazing 70 percent of the Republicans in the Senate deny ACD is real. The report also reveals that, according to the US Census, 202,803,591 Americans are represented by an ACD denier."
Via Dahr Jamail Truthout
Climate Disruption in Overdrive
- Begin with "Consequences of twenty-first-century policy for multi-millennial climate and sea-level change", a major study published in Nature Climate Change
- NASA recently released data confirming that February was the warmest month ever measured globally
- A study recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience revealed that carbon emissions are now the highest they have been since the age of dinosaurs, 66 million years ago
- Former NASA scientist James Hansen... published a paper showing that 1 degree Celsius was the scientifically proven point of no return
- Dozens of countries across Europe and Asia set or tied all-time temperature records
- Cities across the United States saw record warm temperatures, in which the 2015-2016 winter was the warmest ever recorded
- Winter in the US, according to meteorologists, technically takes place from December through February. This year, that winter was 4.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal, breaking the previous record, which was set in 1999-2000
- Every single US state had winters nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal and Alaska's winter was an incredible 10.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal
- The New Scientist reported in early March that earth had its highest-ever annual increase in carbon dioxide levels
- Meanwhile, melting in Greenland is occurring so intensely and quickly that it is "feeding on itself," according to a recently published study
- In North America, millions of acres of forests are struggling and under increasing threat
- Another recent study shows that food scarcity caused by ACD would cause at least half a million deaths across the world by 2050, due to food production being impacted by the effects of ACD
- The UN recently released a report showing that an ongoing decline of pollinating species now poses a very dire threat to the global food supply
- ACD has caused the onslaught of rising sea levels, melting permafrost and other impacts
- In Africa, at least 36 million people are facing hunger due to record-high temperatures and drought
- Meanwhile in the Arctic, February saw alarming melting of Arctic sea ice, where record-high temperatures brought with them other records -- including record lows for that month's extent and area of Arctic sea ice
- In the oceans, things continue to look grim. Recent research shows that coral growth is already being weakened by increasingly acidifying oceans. One-quarter of the carbon dioxide released as a result of human activities is absorbed into the world's oceans, where it alters their chemistry
- More ACD facts and citations at the Truthout 'Disruption in Overdrive' article
Underwater Heat Wave Devastates Great Barrier Reef
- Coral as a canary, a sentinel species
- Coral reefs in peril as ocean environment is transformed
- Hardest-hit area includes some of Australia’s most remote and pristine coral
- March 29, 2016
CANBERRA, Australia — An underwater heat wave is devastating huge swaths of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, marine researchers have found.
A Nightmare is Unfolding in the Great Barrier Reef -- http://gizmodo.com/a-nightmare-is-unfolding-in-the-great-barrier-reef-1767702006
Great Barrier Reef bleaching may be last wake-up call, marine scientists say
Extensive bleaching has been caused by higher ocean temperatures
To prevent further damage, governments should commit to lowering emissions, an Australian team says
"This has been the saddest research trip of my life," James Cook University professor Terry Hughes, the convener of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, said in a press release after the team aerially surveyed almost 2,500 miles of the northern Australia reefs.
Coral bleaching is a modern phenomenon, marine scientists say; Over the past 400 years, there's no evidence of bleaching events until the late 20th century. Changing environmental factors like rising sea temperatures can cause the coral to expel their photosynthetic algae, called zooxanthellae, making many turn stark white. Others remain vivid, but have lost the green and brown hues that signal health. Without the symbiotic algae to process sunlight into oxygen and other nutrients, the coral dies.
"What we're seeing now is unequivocally to do with climate change," Prof Justin Martin University of Queensland told the ABC