media release

Study predicts imminent irreversible planetary collapse

June 06, 2012
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Contact:
Arne Mooers, (Vancouver resident), 778.782.3979, 604.818.1627 (cell), amooers@sfu.ca, skype: arnemooers
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035, cthorbes@sfu.ca

Arne Mooers
Photo on Flickr

Using scientific theories, toy ecosystem modeling and paleontological evidence as a crystal ball, 21 scientists, including one from Simon Fraser University, predict we’re on a much worse collision course with Mother Nature than currently thought.

In Approaching a state-shift in Earth’s biosphere, a paper just published in Nature, the authors, whose expertise spans a multitude of disciplines, suggest our planet’s ecosystems are careering towards an imminent, irreversible collapse.

Earth’s accelerating loss of biodiversity, its climate's increasingly extreme fluctuations, its ecosystems’ growing connectedness and its radically changing total energy budget are precursors to reaching a planetary state threshold or tipping point.

Once that happens, which the authors predict could be reached this century, the planet’s ecosystems, as we know them, could irreversibly collapse in the proverbial blink of an eye.

“The last tipping point in Earth’s history occurred about 12,000 years ago when the planet went from being in the age of glaciers, which previously lasted 100,000 years, to being in its current interglacial state. Once that tipping point was reached, the most extreme biological changes leading to our current state occurred within only 1,000 years. That’s like going from a baby to an adult state in less than a year,” explains Arne Mooers. “Importantly, the planet is changing even faster now.”

The SFU professor of biodiversity is one of this paper’s authors. He stresses, “The odds are very high that the next global state change will be extremely disruptive to our civilizations. Remember, we went from being hunter-gatherers to being moon-walkers during one of the most stable and benign periods in all of Earth’s history.

“Once a threshold-induced planetary state shift occurs, there’s no going back. So, if a system switches to a new state because you’ve added lots of energy, even if you take out the new energy, it won’t revert back to the old system. The planet doesn’t have any memory of the old state.”

These projections contradict the popularly held belief that the extent to which human-induced pressures, such as climate change, are destroying our planet is still debatable, and any collapse would be both gradual and centuries away.

This study concludes we better not exceed the 50 per cent mark of wholesale transformation of Earth’s surface or we won’t be able to delay, never mind avert, a planetary collapse.

We’ve already reached the 43 per cent mark through our conversion of landscapes into agricultural and urban areas, making Earth increasingly susceptible to an environmental epidemic.

“In a nutshell, humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst because the social structures for doing something just aren’t there,” says Mooers. “My colleagues who study climate-induced changes through the earth’s history are more than pretty worried. In fact, some are terrified.”

— 30 —

Backgrounder: Study predicts imminent irreversible planetary collapse

Coming from Chile, Canada, Finland, the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States, the authors of this paper initially met at the University of California Berkeley in 2010 to hold a trans-disciplinary brainstorming session.

They reviewed scores of theoretical and conceptual bodies of work in various biological disciplines in search of new ways to cope with the historically unprecedented changes now occurring on Earth.

In the process they discovered that:

Human-generated pressures, known as global-scale forcing mechanisms, are modifying Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and climate so rapidly that they are likely forcing ecosystems and biodiversity to reach a critical threshold of existence in our lifetime.

“Global-scale forcing mechanisms today “include unprecedented rates and magnitudes of human population growth with attendant resource consumption, habitat transformation and fragmentation, energy production and consumption, and climate change,” says the study.

Human activity drives today’s global-scale forcing mechanisms more than ever before. As a result, the rate of climate change we are seeing now exceeds the rate that occurred during the extreme planetary state change that tipped Earth from being in a glacial to an interglacial state 12,000 years ago. You have to go back to the end of the cataclysmic falling star, which ended the age of dinosaurs, to find a previous precedent.

The exponentially increasing extinction of Earth’s current species, dominance of previously rare life forms and occurrence of extreme climate fluctuations parallel critical transitions that coincided with the last major planetary transition.

When these sorts of perturbations are mirrored in toy ecosystem models, they tip these systems quickly and irreversibly.

The authors recommend governments undertake five actions immediately if we are to have any hope of delaying or minimizing a planetary-state-shift. Arne Mooers, an SFU biodiversity professor and a co-author of this study, summarizes them as follows.

“Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly. More of us need to move to optimal areas at higher density and let parts of the planet recover. Folks like us have to be forced to be materially poorer, at least in the short term. We also need to invest a lot more in creating technologies to produce and distribute food without eating up more land and wild species. It’s a very tall order.”

—30—

106 comments
Oh happy day
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Rightful observations ...
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It was ment to happen, the human race is just passing by like many more did before.
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Yes, indeed we are, but for me, the moral problem lies in that we are taking an unprecedented amount of species down with us.
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an unprecedented amount strictly in what we can see or know to have happened.
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If people are determined to off themselves, if they simply cannot get past their hates and greeds and recognize the rare gift of this blue/green jewel floating in the eternal cold vacuum of space than at least one would hope that we'd have an ounce of honor left, a smidgen of respect for the rest of the innocent biosphere and stop trying to bring it all down with us.
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Maybe the problem is much more economic than that. Maybe this is partially a prisoner's dilemma – in the face of imminent danger, our actions as individuals are pushed towards more destructive behavior, not less. The ‘answer’ will lie in cooperation, but locally and internationally we are more geared towards competition than cooperation. To me, therein lies the heart of the problem.
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“Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly. More of us need to move to optimal areas at higher density and let parts of the planet recover. Folks like us have to be forced to be materially poorer, at least in the short term.


Ah, ... what does that first sentence mean, ... really??? Are optimal areas at higher density the $600/sf micro suites the Vancouver condo industries offers for sale? Who are the "folks" who must be made significantly poorer?
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piss off
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Please consider your own advice. Your level of sincerity is obvious.
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kudos
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Couldn't agree more with your comments. S&F for you
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The suggested solutions put forward by Mooers are exactly the kinds of things that right wing tea party fanatics froth about at their anti-agenda 21 rallies or otherwise routine sustainable planning dialogues. I used to think they were crazy but if these are the kinds of solutions being proposed by scientists...it serves to validate their absurd claims. Maybe some clarification is in order? Because culling the population of the planet and enforcing income limits while cramming everyone into denser cities like cattle is exactly what that statement could easily be misconstrued as. Even I as an environmentalist find his comment startling. I'm all about transforming the food system though, that's for sure.
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I agree. In particular the call for a prompt reduction in world population is scarey. what does the author have in mind, World War Three?
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How do you add energy to a planet? I learned in school that energy can only be converted between different forms e.g. potential to kinetic or it can be moved around. So if you are the sun you may be able to add energy to the earth but if "adding energy" means burning fossil fuels that´s just a conversion not an addition. But that´s just a detail I guess.

Regarding the recommendations
"Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly"
Any good ideas for that? I don´t know how that should be achieved. Birthcontrol would be the only human way.

"More of us need to move to optimal areas at higher density and let parts of the planet recover"
That makes sense because the more dense the population the more effective is the supporting infrastructure. That was the theme of a Ted talk some time ago.

"Folks like us have to be forced to be materially poorer, at least in the short term."
That means stopping the insanity of capitalism which can only survive if its products have a limited lifespan an must be replace as quickly as possible. This would be the simplest task i think. Governments would only have to have the necessary laws to force corporations to consider the environmental footprint in the prices of their products or to force them to recycle their products themselves without producing any trash at all. That is surely possible it´s only not economical in the current way of thinking. Currently the designers of products are motivated to do the exact opposite, design a product that lives only as long as legally necessary. In this question I am a great fan of Jaque Fresco and the venus project. He expresses exactly my thoughts. In some social questions I don´t agree with him or at least I hope it will not become as bad as he predicts.

"We also need to invest a lot more in creating technologies to produce and distribute food without eating up more land and wild species." Food production is merely a question of energy and water. If you have enough energy and water you can grow plants in skyscrapers or under the earth. Water in itself is a question of energy too. We have more than enough water on the planet the question is only how to make it useable.
Under the bottom line we just have to stop the insanity that´s going on everywehere and start thinking and act (!) like rational beeings that we pretend to be.
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I think the author should have used the term 'biosphere' rather than 'planet', biosphere being the thin outer zone of our planet plus oceans and atmosphere that contains life. The problem with fossil fuels is that they introduce energy into the biosphere that has not been a part of the equation for tens or even hundreds of millions of years. That's why CO2 proliferation now is so disturbing- it has nowhere to go without changing the long-standing equation. (of course volcanic activity also adds energy but we're piling our bad behavior on top of that).
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Get rid of all Fossil Fuel extraction & replace it with Thorium-fueled Molten Salt Reactors. Use these in City centers to create heat & electricity to power massive skyscraper sized vertical farms that are hermetically sealed & operated like a clean room, so no need of pesticides or GM crops.

Finally, we need to support a "gold rush" of mining operations in the asteroid belt & move all of our heavy industry off-planet, and set up lots of colonies in space. If we could move 1/3 - 1/2 the population off-planet comfortably with lots of resources, everone, incluiding the planet wins.
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Yes,
This is a great way forward because it is heroic in scale and inspirational in vision. Psychologically it's rewards will off set the resentment of inequality that will be created by any "short term" sacrifices.
Keep this idea alive!
Spread it around, make it a meme.
Read Arthur C. Clark's "The Fountians of Paradise"
For further relevant inspiration :( space elevator )
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Some species becoming dominant, some fading...climate change causing the extinction of some, which will give rise to others. So, basically the same thing that's been happening on this planet for around 4 billion years...all is right with the world---good to know....
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Some species becoming dominant, some fading...climate change causing the extinction of some, which will give rise to others. So, basically the same thing that's been happening on this planet for around 4 billion years...all is right with the world---good to know....
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we dont need a scientific study to tell us our once beautiful ecosystem into a ball of shit
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Ooooo can't wait, we all gotta go sometime.
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I am so glad we have a seed vault in Antarctica.
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Which "we" are you referring to?
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I think he meant the 'we' as in us, the humans, as opposed to the seed bank the birds or rabbits have!
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sounds like a catastrophic destabilization of the earths environs would solve the over population crisis, this problem solves itself in due course! one organism dominating its environment is part of the natural ebb and flow, adapt and survive, or fail and die - tough but fair.
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The important part is that the rich bankers should continue to live their lifestyles. Belt tightening is for proles.
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The claim that "43 per cent" of the Earth's land area has been transformed into agriculture and urban is obviously bogus. One might get to that number if one considers Western Europe. I suspect either a flaw in the definition or the measurement.
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"The last tipping point in Earth’s history occurred about 12,000 years" <-- that's about the time we invented the bow and arrow. No doubt the bow and arrow is the reason why it changed last time and carbon pollution the reason why it's going to happen this time.

I'd like to know why the text I type in this box gets deleted when I click the mouse button. That is a far more serious situation than what some over funded climate change nutters have to say.

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And it'll be the few greedy, psychopathic corporations, people, and governments who'll push it and end up destroying the ones who really do care and would live harmoniously with all of nature (which they'll also destroy) right along with themselves.
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This whole thing reeks of elitist snobbery. A bunch of "scientists" fly on jet planes from around the world to hang out in Berkley California and talk about how everybody else needs to die-off. Thanks but no thanks, jerks!

“Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly."

Now that's what I call jumping to a conclusion! People in Berkley, California ( where this study originates ) consume and waste orders of magnitudes more energy and resources than 90% of the rest of the world's people. They also pollute orders of magnitude more as well! Maybe they should do like Michael Jackson and "Start with the man in the mirror" and change their ways?

"More of us need to move to optimal areas at higher density and let parts of the planet recover."

How many trees can I plant in the city?
How many square feet of gardens can I grow in a city?
How independent can I be from corporate/government control ( which these Berkley scientists represent ) if I have no way to produce my own livelihood? These Berkeley people are probably the same to call subsistence farmers in their own country "white trash".

"Folks like us have to be forced to be materially poorer, at least in the short term."

Folks, forced, poor. Folks forced poor. Hmmm... well their plan is going well if we are poor enough in mind ( due to government schooling ) not to see that the agenda this study represents is just eugenics wrapped in environmental clothing.

Isn't it clever how they have replaced Catholic/Christian guilt with this new enviro-guilt?

"We also need to invest a lot more in creating technologies to produce and distribute food without eating up more land and wild species. It’s a very tall order."

It's called Permaculture. Look it up! Yes it is a tall order for snobby Berkley types who probably never had to do a hard day's labor in their life and spend their time flying around in jets to conferences.

We need to call this out as pure emotional manipulation. Yes our environment needs to be taken better care of. That means shutting down the a-holes destroying it. Forcing poverty and strain on people already struggling will only make people more desperate to accept whatever control agenda these wads are really working on. Control freaks like these guys can't get enough. Dear control freaks, don't worry, the universe will go on just fine without you worrying about it!
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I liked every word of your comment. Thanks.
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yes I noticed that too ~ all these eco-concerned scientists who fly into a convention on jet planes

Apparently they've never heard of video conferencing or Skype etc

Hypocrites ....
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Zero citations to these studies. I call bullshit
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If you're interested in the citations, I recommend reading the original Nature paper which this article was based on. The authors highlighted key references by providing a synopsis of what they're about, and I really appreciated this "above and beyond" effort.
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http://www.stanford.edu/group/hadlylab/pdfs/Barnoskyetal2012.pdf
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Here is the original paper, you'll find your citations here: http://www.stanford.edu/group/hadlylab/pdfs/Barnoskyetal2012.pdf
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You went to public school only right?
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Sure. Let's blame capitalism. Oh, I have it! Communism! Perfect you media trolls. Let's go to a system that has FAILED time and time again. Then again, government sanctioned firing squads would solve the problem, especially when they protest but don't know why...
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Communism did not fail for the people running the show. Communism was one big party for a significant group of people who governed the nations of the USSR. The lesson is that just like the dreaded scourge of gangster capitalism some things that look like they are failing are actually succeeding and moving according to a logic which benefits some while destroying the lives of others. Ecological collapse? Great news for you if you're a government! More justification to expand your power!
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In order to put this into effect, we must find a way to profit from it.
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for one thing, we could profit from it by actually having a planet to live on
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We are a part of a terrestrial organism and our activities have exacerbated the natural cycles of change. I doubt very much if we could have actually done much to mitigate, or even if we could - it is ertainly no longer "business as usual". We should be preparing for the changes to come.
I take comfort in the vision of the Baha'i community of the world as one country, and am pleased to lend my shoulder the their efforts to build human reseources and community links through their programmes, although they are only able to shine a glimmer of possibility and like us all, have to shrug of the yoke of a presumptive right to material comforts.
We should not look upon these changes as punishment for environmental profligacy, but as an incentive to change the way we do life on the planet.
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And we now can see why Jesus stated why He cuts short the end of the age because if He hadn't, there would be no flesh left. Sadly, millions are already so indoctrinated by propaganda that they read this study, just nodding along, never once realising that they're bringing on His wrath upon their very own heads. THOU SHALT NOT MURDER.
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there will be a global genocide initiated by the illuminati to correct the balance so we don't need to worry
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It's too bad we keep subsidizing unchecked population growth by short circuiting the free market. In other words, we keep feeding the deer and they just keep multiplying.

Funny that in this age of intellectual bankruptcy the free market is seen as an enemy of a healthy society. What most people don't realize about laissez-faire capitalism is that greed is counterbalanced by fear. And fear drives population down.

We could use a dose of fear right now.
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It doesn't say what is going to happen. Another ice-age? Desertification? Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes? Article isn't worth the paper it's printed...isn't worth the space it takes up?
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"If it doesn't satisfy my selfish unfulfilled desire to predict my fate and my future, I refuse to accept responsibility for myself and my actions....."

Is this what you are trying to say?
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"if it doesn't satisfy my selfish unfulfilled desire to predict my fate and my future, I refuse accept responsibility for myself and my actions....."

Is this what you are trying to say?
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Do you remember the old “Chicken Little” made by W. Disney?
“This is the voice of doom: The sky ids falling”
“What should we do?”
“Listen the yo-yo champ and go to the fox’s cave”
Well, those scientists are truly yo-yo champs
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Do you remember the old “Chicken Little” made by W. Disney?
“This is the voice of doom: The sky ids falling”
“What should we do?”
“Listen the yo-yo champ and go to the fox’s cave”
Well, those scientists are truly yo-yo champs
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Are all these denalists SFU students? Must not be getting a very good education - I guess that's why SFU has dropped from a global ranking of 139 in 2007 to 260 in 2011 - too many ignorant fools.
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Couldn't agree more
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Humans have most definitely overstepped their bounds on this planet. Now, how to find an ethical way to decrease our population, and fast...
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It is shocking that people are still denying anthropogenic climate change. Nothing besides hunting and gathering are natural activities for humans. How can people possible think pumping toxins and extra carbon dioxide into the environment won't cause an imbalance in the ecosystems? There is clear evidence our actions are causing irreversible damage. The problem is people don't want to change their current unsustainable lifestyle. Humans just need to get back to basics, and start realizing that without the environment, there is not economy, there is no us, so we better start treating it with some respect.
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Any civilization had failed because of desertification. Never Photosynthesis had been considered as exothermic. Photolysis is endothermic but the output of photosynthesis is but exothermic. That is a revolution in many sciences. What will save Earth is Hemp. Pot would have never been illegal if it was not Hemp. With hemp you have biodiesel, fiber wood, and it can be useful to give back the lands some youngness . Hempcrete is superior and lasts longer. The oil is one of the best. But the pharmacists and the petrol companies will do less cash.
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Overpopulation!
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This is also an impressive and exciting divergent thread! I´ve just found another thread on this study, yesterday.
Surely, no one today can determine the real effect of combined action of all the factors brough to the table by the current humanity development stage.
Things we may be certain of:
 Consuming products as we do today is bad.
 Producing meat food for 7 billion people as we do today is bad.
 Producing veggie food for 7 billion people as we do today is bad.
 Stopping technology investments and innovation just to stop these effects is worse.
What we need is to evolve our consciousness of all these causes and their effects, try to reduce them.
The planet won´t go back to a previous state, independent of any action.
Let´s use our brains. Find INNOVATIVE solutions to the problems our predecessors built.
The scientists are wrong in one thing. WE will collapse, not the planet. The planet will stay on its track with a new set of species.
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Excellent post.
There is a professor out of UBC looking into this issue as well. He states that we need to reconstruct our idea of Sustainability. He believes we won't go back to being cavemen without technology, nor will we continue on the path we're currently on of environmental destruction, but we need to find a balance. Our problem is we cannot, nor can the planet, sustain more human growth. Our consumption is too much, our population is too high, and the carrying capacity of Earth has been exceeded. We need to realize that economic growth is not a goal we should be striving for. Balance is key. Hopefully someone out there will put these words into action and accomplish something in regards to sustainability during our lifetime.
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What's the name of the professor?
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why not enjoy life to its fullest rather than always trying to determine its end. hate whenever i click onto the sfu website and i gotta see this guys face predictin the end of the world, wish someone would take it off.
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I don't think that anything will circumvent the fatal end for our species on this planet. Our needs, but most pernicious of all, our demands are absolutely incompatible with a healthy ecosystem and are ultimately unsustainable in order to ensure our survival. The reason I am convinced of this is simple: the evidence throughout history of incurable human folly. Humanity is disgusting to me in all its rationality and irrationality - both of which serve selfish pragmatic self-interested ends with complete disregard for whatever else might also be involved in the process.
We deserve to be exterminated just for the fact that we ever could have had the arrogant idiocy to think and claim that we are the master of the natural world. As Oscar Wilde once said: “The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.” I do most eagerly agree that population growth must be drastically curtailed, I have been saying this for years, but humans made it a taboo to even suggest such a thing.
I might go down with everyone else, but what satisfaction I will experience seeing this miserable species being eaten up by the fires of hell along with its arrogant presumptions, exemplified by Eric’s comments, that scientists’ calculations are just emotional manipulation and fear tactics.
The planet will indeed go on as usual, developing yet another set of species, but what scientists are trying to bring to our attention to is that the conditions necessary for HUMAN life will cease and if we want to avert this cataclysm, we better stop breeding incessantly (in this capacity, we do resemble animals who are driven solely by instinct), stop our selfish drive sacrificing everything in the name of profit and start cooperating rather than competing as well as start having some Goddamn respect for the entire medium in which we live and which provides us with all the necessary ingredients that make life possible.
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Seriously? We need to drastically reduce our population very quickly? So, do we just start killing people? Who gets to decide who goes first? And then we need to move to higher density areas? Like cities? Where everything needs to be trucked in, creating more pollution? This article is rediculous. It sounds like it was written by New World Order elites. They may be right about needing drastic action, but how about instead of killing people, we stop digging up half the planet for toxic oil. Or how about we live sustainably with permaculture instead of fuel intesive, pesticide laden, genetically modified agriculture.
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How do we address a problem like overpopulation when most people refuse to acknowledge it exists? I personally think reducing our numbers by having fewer children is much more humane than having to reduce numbers through wars over resources, forced sterilizations, forced abortions or state-sanctioned murders. It seems unfathomable that these things could happen, but we've reached 7 BILLION people and are projected to hit 9 billion by 2050. These are very serious times we face.
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Seems a few things done now could ease things later. ie. Capping medical treatments for very elderly yet keep hospice options open. Means-testing for couples wanting to make a baby. Encouraging easier adoptions more quickly. Free global birth control for young people, paid for by governments as fewer babies means savings on welfare later (meaning smaller families cost governments less in payments.) Surely humans globally should soon wake up and realize we don't have much time to sort this out and continuing 'business as usual' or denial is not going to work.
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Frank Fenner has already predict the same fate.
He said that whatever we do it is too late. The human race will become extinct in les than a hundred years
Of cours it is not going to be a certain Monday of October 2099...T has already begun..
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The last paragraph is full of wisdom. It is very easy to drastically reduce our population. We are around 7 billions. In 120 years if we stop reproducing now the human race will have completely disappeared.

The malthusianism has always advocated for reducing the population, returning it to a more sustainable level.
It seems like this is the only way for saving our Planet. Birth control, reduce by half, if not more, the population in a few decades to stop our frenetic race to chaos and destruction of our planet.
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Why do you think the left is so big on LGBT "rights" - as it takes a man and a woman to make a baby (watch, now when they realize that they'll start protesting how that violates their civil rights!) the more men you get to be only with men and women you get to be only with women the less your population eventually becomes. This is nonsense, all of it. Heard it all before. The left comes up with this same nonsense all the time. Read "The Population Bomb" and "Silent Spring" if you don't believe me.
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Your comment is nonsense, all of it. Homosexuality is a normal variant in over 180 species. It has nothing to do with population size or civil rights. And there are tons of lesbian mothers and gay fathers who created their own biological children.
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"Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly"

This sounds very much like a "final solution," as advocated in the last century for various segments of the population - in places like central Europe and Cambodia.

Why do I suspect that this "destroy the village to save it" mentality is very-well funded through corporate research grants, endorsed by powerful, wealthy individuals - who would never be subject to the horrors concealed under the dispassionate phrasing: "drastically lower our population, very quickly"?

My suggestion? It would be best to lead in the virtue of what one advocates through personal example.
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A bit of ‘critical thinking’ would surmise a similar conclusion even if one were not a scientist. In my 68 years I’ve seen overpopulation and consumerism touted to be the economic and patriotic thing to do.

Only a paradigm shift of personal and collective commitment to real change is needed. I’ve stated recently, along with others, that the US appears to be in the 4th stage of cancer while still stuffing it’s body with Big Macs for the cure.
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So if you start to read the comments below, you can understand how voluntary depopulation would be impossible to do. Ask yourself, and not those of us who are 50+ but the younger ones, would you be able to sacrifice yourself so that a real small group may have a chance to last another couple hundred years. Our population would have to go from 7 Billion to less than 10 million.
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"Our population would have to go from 7 Billion to less than 10 million."
• A question arises: What is the carrying capacity of the earth in the long term? This question brings up lots of interesting questions about who gets a house, swimming pool and car and who gets a yurt and goat? Of course it’s an absurd question to think about parceling out standards of living to make the utopian ideal. I’m guessing there’s going to be a lot of suffering before a new dawn of clarity comes.
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De population has already begun, Cancer, fluoride, pesticides, Monsanto, We cant escape in fertility. An unfortunate necessary evil. good luck. Be ready to ride out the wave
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Let me know when the sky actually starts falling. I don't want to miss it. Until then, please, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. I've had enough of this nonsense to last me two lifetimes.

When will these people learn that change is the only constant and we can't run around being constantly afraid of change. The current state of things is based largely on the current configuration of ocean basins and landmasses. That will not change appreciably for millions of years and so we can look forward, more or less, to reasonable stability, with punctuated periods of change as represented by the Medieval Warm Period and the last Little Ice Age - two periods that the climate alarmists seem determined to deny ever occurred. Apparently these folks didn't get the memo, though, because, contrary to alarmist dogma, they admit that normal, natural climate change can be both rapid and dramatic.
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1) Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly. [This means forced sterilization, abortion or genocide - who picks and who dies?]

2) More of us need to move to optimal areas at higher density and let parts of the planet recover. [Are you willing to give up your home and move to a tiny urban apartment in a crime-ridden zone? I didn't think so - you want everyone else to do it, but not you. How do you plan to impose this requirement on us and will you join us?]

3) Folks like us have to be forced to be materially poorer, at least in the short term. [Again, lead the way, show us how you think we should live, do it for at least a decade then we will decide if we want to join you - but you're planning on imposing this on us, too, aren't you? Another case of "Do as we say, not as we do?"]

4) We also need to invest a lot more in creating technologies to produce and distribute food without eating up more land and wild species. [Doubt PETA and other "animal rights" groups will go for this because you're basically talking factory production of protein and they're already hardcore against this. Or are you planning to force us to all go vegan? Again, are you going to lead the way or just impose this on the rest of us?]
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I think the planet would be so better of if we got ride of the "1%"
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The problem has been analysed in details in the book "The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience" by Rob Hopkins.

Pragmatic solutions are in experiment in different places worldwide, see : http://www.transitionnetwork.org/
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What has failed is a basic social organization that could interact positively with our environment.Homo sapiens could not. Trough out,primary instincts have prevailed over collective interest.
Social and ecologic unbalances have brought strife ,and wars.
Such is the nature of the Universes, dynamic ,ever transforming their states, colliding and exploding energies ,ever evolving...
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