Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future

The February episode of Nature Bats Last featured a conversation with Professor Paul Ehrlich where we discussed his recent bomb shell paper titled “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future” co-written with two former guests on the show Corey Bradshaw and Geraldo Ceballos et al.
The episode is embedded here:

“We report three major and confronting environmental issues that have received little attention and require urgent action. First, we review the evidence that future environmental conditions will be far more dangerous than currently believed. The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well-informed experts. Second, we ask what political or economic system, or leadership, is prepared to handle the predicted disasters, or even capable of such action. Third, this dire situation places an extraordinary responsibility on scientists to speak out candidly and accurately when engaging with government, business, and the public. We especially draw attention to the lack of appreciation of the enormous challenges to creating a sustainable future. The added stresses to human health, wealth, and well-being will perversely diminish our political capacity to mitigate the erosion of ecosystem services on which society depends. The science underlying these issues is strong, but awareness is weak. Without fully appreciating and broadcasting the scale of the problems and the enormity of the solutions required, society will fail to achieve even modest sustainability goals.”
Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future

Guy mentioned the following paper also co-written by Professor’s Ehrlich and Ceballos:
Abstract:
“The ongoing sixth mass species extinction is the result of the destruction of component populations leading to eventual extirpation of entire species. Populations and species extinctions have severe implications for society through the degradation of ecosystem services. Here we assess the extinction crisis from a different perspective. We examine 29,400 species of terrestrial vertebrates, and determine which are on the brink of extinction because they have fewer than 1,000 individuals.”
Vertebrates on the brink as indicators of biological annihilation and the sixth mass extinction

The issue of collapse and extinction is becoming more mainstream by the day. Check out the article below from the L.A. Times”
“It’s not hard to find the “collapseology” studies they are talking about. In a report for the sustainability group Future Earth, a survey of scientists found that extreme weather events, food insecurity, freshwater shortages and the broad degradation of life-sustaining ecosystems “have the potential to impact and amplify one another in ways that might cascade to create global systemic collapse.” A 2019 report from the Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration, a think tank in Australia, projected that a rapidly warming world of depleted resources and mounting pollution would lead to “a largely uninhabitable Earth” and a “breakdown of nations and the international order.” Analysts in the U.S. and British military over the past two years have issued similar warnings of climate- and environment-driven chaos”. Op-Ed: Collapseologists are warning humanity that business-as-usual will make the Earth uninhabitable

At the beginning of the interview I asked Paul how he was recovering from the Australian bush fires that wiped out 20% of Australia’s forest in one fire season: ‘Unprecedented’ globally: more than 20% of Australia’s forests burnt in bushfires

I'm an anti-imperialist, environmental activist and blue ocean sailor, who is passionate about the earth and all it's inhabitants without favour. Brace for imminent impact as we bare witness to the non-linear unraveling of the biosphere and habitability disappearing for most if not all complex life on the only habitable planet we know of. To quote President Niinistö in North Russia: ‘If We Lose the Arctic, We Lose the World’. Folks we have lost the Arctic.

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7 comments on “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future
  1. Kevin Hester says:

    Guy mentioned the Aerosol Masking effect.
    This link from the extremely conservative Physorg proves the hypothesis that when we lower emissions the temperature will rise !
    Damned if we do, damned if we don’t:
    https://phys.org/news/2021-02-covid-lockdowns-temporarily-global-temperatures.html?fbclid=IwAR3XNN8Dg1IdEQr-lmqlO9Kgz4LeyVbJzt7yWuog0NxbKPnhb2Fy2vyjtz4

    Like

  2. Trish Kaiser says:

    EXCELLENT interview! Thanks to all involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. denimoon says:

    Thank you, Kevin, for keeping us informed!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This popped up today, Kevin, and fits right in here. And probably on a number of other threads! What a list!

    Can We Exit This Road to Ruin?

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/02/15/can-we-exit-this-road-to-ruin/

    sealintheSelkirks

    Liked by 1 person

    • I followed the link and read the original Jan 31st publication and one of the key sentences in the piece that immediately stood out, and a most optimistic one to my mind, is not only in the title of the piece; “Face a Ghastly Future” but reinforced again in the first paragraph; “in the next several decades.”

      What? As if the the nebulous ‘future’ listed in the first paragraph that we ‘face’ are not ALREADY HAPPENING all across the world? Hell, they had a typhoon in the Western Pacific that had sustained 305mph winds last year. At beach level! Holy shit! I mean, really, three hundred miles an hour winds??? And two named hurricanes slammed Nicaragua (or was it Honduras?) at the same place ten days apart during the most hurricanes a season ever recorded…where they ran out of names!

      Oh, and by the way did you know they aren’t going to use the Greek Alphabet this year? The hurricane forecasters are just going to start over with another ‘A’ name. I have thought up a far more relevant list the storms should be named after but then nobody ever listens to me. I think using last names gives more reality to these storms. Like Koch, Reagan, Cheney etc for Atlantic storms. And businesses for the Western Pacific; Weyerhouser sounds like a match along with Superstorm Exxon or Typhoon Dutch Shell…

      So… Since there are decades left to enjoy the poison fruits of a technological oil-driven industrial oligarch-operated militarized Empire I’d best get right on out there and buy one of those three-ton Dodge ‘fully loaded’ monster V-10 pick-up trucks with the million candlepower light bar across the roof and lots of shiny chrome so I can drive the highways in style to visit all the beeyoutiful places dragging my 2.5 ton fifth-wheel home-away-from-home behind it. All on credit of course. After all, that’s what credit cards are for. Live the Dream!

      I try not to remember what George Carlin said about the American Dream…gotta be asleep to believe it just puts a damper on the entire concept of being a consumer rather than a citizen don’t you think?

      Or maybe I should just do the cruise ship regatta back and forth across the oceans to all the beeyoutiful places instead? But maybe, since obviously the pandemic isn’t going to hurt anybody but, you know, like India and Africa and all those other backwards 3rd world societies that no corporation would lessen their profit margins to help; I’ll just hop on jets like the Boeing MAX and travel in style at far quicker speeds so I get there sooner…unless the damned thing falls out of the sky of course.
      ________

      Kevin, it was 80 goddamned degrees here yesterday. Yes, about 27C at 4pm at the end of April. First hummingbird showed up last week about a month early…and I’ve got one feeder out because there are NO flowers showing except dandilions yet… Web weather said to expect little change this week so of course I woke up to rain this morning. Nobody saw it coming, completely unexpected. Unpredictable weather shifts from the destabilizing climate but remember it’s going to be decades before it gets bad…

      And the earlier mass extinction events listed in the paper ‘could’ happen within the next few hundred years. Think most people are gonna give a shit with wording like that? It’s like they are self-censoring the extreme emergency conditions and yes I do understand the impacts on their status and income if they get too frisky about warnings…They get labeled ‘extremists’ or ‘activists’ or ‘conspiracy nuts’ and that’s it, their office turns into a broom closet and next week the rug disappears and the one after that the phone gets turned off…

      Big sigh. My take on the article is that it’s not edgy enough, not enough here&now impact. People will continue to be complacent and we’ll have another record number of Atlantic hurricanes this year, and monster wildfires, and it’ll probably be hotter this summer, and people will still go to walmart and buy crap from amazon that they don’t need or will break in a week, and people will still die from Covid every day in increasing numbers as the 2nd Wave of this Pandemic, the new mutated variant strains, rip through the vulnerable populations. I’m sure not much of an optimistic old surfer dude, am I?

      sealintheSelkirks

      Liked by 1 person

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Kevin Hester

Kevin Hester is currently living on Rakino Island, a small island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand, monitoring the unravelling of the biosphere and volunteering at the Rakino Island Nursery is currently developing a proposal to create a marine reserve near by. The Island has no grid tied electricity or reticulated water.  I catch my own water from the roof and generate my electricity from the ample solar radiation on the island.

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