Sunday, February 24, 2013

Earth Is Dying, Yet Climate and Forest Movements Lack Urgency and Substance

Human industrial growth is systematically liquidating the natural ecosystems that are the habitat for humans and for all life. Earth is dying, one logged old-growth tree and tank of gasoline at a time, yet most environmental groups are shilling solutions that are inadequate and ill-conceived – such as logging old-growth forests to protect them. Nothing shows this better than Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network – in an age of mass extinction, abrupt climate change, and ecosystem collapse – wanting us to wipe our asses with toilet paper from "certified" old-growth forest pulp.

By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk

A profound lack of understanding exists, even amid the supposedly radical environmental movement, of the seriousness of merging ecological crises. If Gaia – the Earth System or biosphere – is alive, as science has come to understand, then clearly she can die as key ecosystems are destroyed and biogeochemical processes fail. To survive, much less thrive, humanity must stop scraping Earth's land of life, spewing waste into our air and water, and claiming it can all be certified as sustainably done, while calling it "development."

Industrial growth's destruction of ecosystems is undermining the habitability of the planet, threatening the maintenance of conditions necessary for life, by destroying the ecosystems required for a living planet. As key ecosystems are lost, indications are humanity will soon be going extinct, quite possibly taking the biosphere and all life with us.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Old Forests, Kerala's Elephants, and the Biosphere

asian_elephant_sm.jpgProposing a planetary boundary for terrestrial ecosystem loss


By Dr. Glen Barry
, December 16, 2012


Theme - The Legal Regime and Measures for Conservation of Bio Diversity and Protection of Ecological Balance of Western Ghats

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." – Anne Frank

*Version 1.0, not yet peer reviewed, or final edits for publication in conference proceedings

Review Paper Abstract

Planetary boundary science continues the study of requirements to avoid ecosystem collapse and to achieve global ecological sustainability, by defining key thresholds in the Earth System's ecological conditions that threaten human well-being. Terrestrial ecosystems do not enter into the nine originally defined boundaries ranging from climate change to water availability, except peripherally through other boundaries such as land use and biodiversity. A rigorous research agenda is necessary to determine what quantity and quality of terrestrial ecosystems are required across landscapes so as to sustain the biosphere. This includes a spatially explicit way of indicating what extent of a landscape, bioregion, continent and global Earth System must remain in the form of connected and intact core ecological areas and semi-natural agroecological buffers, in order to sustain local ecosystem services as well as the biosphere commons. Connectivity of large ecosystem patches which remain the matrix for the landscape is a preeminent consideration. When ~60% of a natural ecosystem habitat remains, after just under 40% of the ecosystem has been destroyed, the landscape is said to percolate, and we see critical collapse of the "percolating cluster" – the dominant large habitat patch constituting the matrix of the landscape – into smaller, more distant habitat, in a sea of human development. This critical deterioration of habitat connectivity continues so that at or near 50% loss of a landscape or bioregon's natural vegetation, the natural habitat percolates from people within ecosystems, to natural islands surrounded by human works. This transition is likely to be similar at a continental and global scale.

A new planetary boundary threshold is proposed: that 60% of terrestrial ecosystems must be maintained across scales – with the boundary set at 66% as a precaution – as a safe space not only for humanity but for all life and to maintain the long-term viability of the biosphere. It is thought that loss and diminishment of terrestrial ecosystems aggregates from the local and regional scale, yet disrupts planetary process with this global scale threshold. It is hypothesized that ensuring natural ecosystems and their biogeochemical flows remain the context for human endeavors is a requirement to sustain the biosphere for the long term, and that fundamentally this requires large core ecological areas, and the critical connectivity of ecosystem processes and patterns, as the global and fractal landscape matrix. It is further proposed on the basis of ecology's percolation theory that two-thirds of the 66% of terrestrial ecosystems must be protected as ecological core areas (in total 44% of the global land mass as intact ecological cores, 22% as agroecological, agroforestry and managed forest buffers, and transition zones), to ensure the ecological integrity of the semi-natural agroecological landscapes, to maintain critical ecosystem connectivity across scales, and encompass semi-natural landscapes and bioregions within a matrix of intact nature to ensure that their own ecological patterns and processes are sustainable. Up to 50% of Earth's land surface has already been transformed from mostly wild to mostly anthropocentric, so the biosphere is likely to have already lost its global percolating cluster. If indeed bioregional and global scaled landscapes are similar to landscape and bioregional pattern, terrestrial ecosystem connectivity is already critically lacking, and the global ecosystem now exists as patches of nature within a sea of humanity. It is urgent to protect most of what remains and to begin reconstructing connected ecological landscape matrixes of intact ecosystems across scales, so that globally the biosphere can percolate back to connected nature as the provider of top-down context to human and all life.

To have meaning in guiding global ecological sustainability policy, these continental and global observations – and proposed 66% presence / 44% protected – planetary boundary for terrestrial ecosystem loss must be grounded in real-life landscape and bioregional conservation considerations. An example are efforts to achieve ecological sustainability, including maintaining continued viable populations of Asian elephants in the Western Ghats bioregion of India, particularly within Kerala state, as an umbrella species. The Asian elephant requires extensive and adequate natural habitat for its survival, and the Western monsoon depends upon forest-dependent pressure gradients – and thus the provision of both provides for water, clean air, soil, pollinators, and other ecosystem services for the region, nation, and biosphere. An initial expansive regional ecosystem mapping exercise that seeks to identify natural gradients in ecological importance has taken place in Kerala, but its largely top-down processes have faced organized socio-political resistance, it is not clear the scientifically valid mapping processes have enough understanding and support, and the legal structure is not in place to tie its requirements for local and regional sustainability to laws. As a real-world example, elephants moving across landscapes are emblematic and widely visible examples of the myriad types of flows that continue on a connected landscape, making life possible. It is suggested that as go the Western Ghats' and Kerala's Asian elephants and their habitat, so shall go the biosphere, and that it is crucial to build awareness that healthy ecosystems are essential to both local advancement and global sustainability. On the basis of taking such an ecosystem and landscape approach to the needs of Earth System sustainability, and given pernicious trends of ecosystem loss and decline, it is concluded that more attention is needed to prevent worst-case outcomes including biosphere collapse and a lifeless Earth, particularly because of abrupt climate change and ecosystem loss. A massive and global program to protect and restore natural ecosystems – funded by a carbon tax on fossil fuels – is presented as the sort of policy approach necessary at this time to avoid biosphere collapse. Humanity is now the major force shaping the biosphere, which, if current trends in ecological loss and diminishment continue, may collapse or die as a result.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mr. President: Earth Does Not Have Forever

EARTH MEANDERS: Mr. President: Earth Does Not Have Forever

With under a month remaining before the U.S. Presidential election, it is not clear whether either candidate will address abrupt climate change and global ecosystem collapse, and related rollbacks of civil liberties and a state of drone-based perma-war. Clearly President Obama's general rhetoric on the environment is more promising, and Governor Romney is avowedly anti-nature, but the President's record on the environment is weak, and we are running out of time to stop abrupt climate change. Unless I hear specific policies from the President on climate, civil liberties, and drone warfare – I will not be voting for him – instead writing in "None of the Above".

War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. – George Orwell

Ecocide is jobs. God is hate. Fairness is socialism. Science is lying. Education be dumb. Goodness is climate change. Truth is money. Ignorance is strength. – Romney and Republicans

Drones are love. Waiting is hope. Ecosystems are resources. Rhetoric is action. Justice is murder. Climate change is votes. Obama is god-like. War is peace. – Obama and Democrats


By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk


Mr. President: The Earth Does Not Have ForeverListening to the US Presidential election, you wouldn't know Earth faces ecological emergencies including abrupt climate change and ecosystem collapse in water, forests, and food. The United States and world are less free, green and peaceful places – largely because human growth has met ecological limits. Ongoing rollbacks of human rights and civil liberties, as well as the state of perma-war waged by drones terrorizing entire populations, is a direct result of environmental decline caused by industrial growth and the resulting scramble for oil and other resources in a globalized world.

The human family faces its greatest planetary emergency ever as Earth, humanity and all life are poised upon the precipice of total ecological, social and economic collapse. Earth's biosphere – the thin mantle of life from underground, through terrestrial ecosystems, to the top of the atmosphere – is being destroyed. Fisheries, soils, the atmosphere, forests, wetlands, water, oceans, food and other ecosystems are uniformly in decline or simply gone. Global ecological crises are destroying conditions necessary for a habitable Earth, and our descent into resource anarchy has begun.

Global change and ecological science are clear that we are near or have surpassed planetary boundaries required to maintain a livable Earth. We know with certainty that endless growth on a finite planet is impossible. Humanity powers down, abandons growth for a steady state economy, learns to live more simply – but well – and share, or the existence of all life, including our own, is threatened.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

This I Know to Be Ecological Truth



EARTH MEANDERS: This I Know to Be Ecological Truth

Abrupt climate change and ecosystem collapse, caused by human industrial growth at expense of ecology, are poised to utterly destroy our one shared biosphere, and thus virtually all life including humanity.
"I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." – Malcolm X

By Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet
Earth Meanders come from Earth's Newsdesk

Ecology is the meaning of lifeEarth is an ancient organism, alive for 3.5 billion years. Only a few hundred years ago the disease of industrial capitalist growth arose, and is killing her by destroying her ecosystems. The current dominant economic paradigm mistakes ecosystem habitats – which are necessary for life – for disposable resources to be logged, mined, and burnt. Ancient, naturally evolved ecosystems are being stripped of life, largely for growth in throw-away consumer junk. As a result, water, soil, climate, and food systems are failing.

Human history can be summarized as the rich screwing the poor, stealing their work's surplus, while trashing ecosystems, at the point of a gun. For millennium, as human civilization developed, destroying ecosystems has been embraced as normal and desirable, particularly for agriculture. Over-population – going from 1.5 to 7 billion inequitable super-consumers in 125 years – has surpassed planetary ecological boundaries.

It has been routinely claimed that growth and liquidating natural habitat is progress and advancement, when in fact ecosystem loss is ecocide, and is killing us all. Ecosystem collapse is already here for one billion people globally without enough food, another billion lacking water, two billion living on less than $2 per day, and those subsisting on industrially over-developed and climate changed lands. Austerity in over-developed countries is in fact largely caused by ecosystem collapse, as jobs and easy growth from once-off harvesting of ecosystems ends. Without intact, healthy ecosystems, this is all our futures.

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