CAN HUMANITY FIND A WAY
TO SAVE ITSELF FROM ITSELF?
A question looms on the minds of billions of the world’s people these days: Can humanity find a way to save itself from itself?
What will it take for us, as a species, to see, to admit, and to do something about what we are doing to ourselves?
Is it even possible for us, as a global civilization, to even acknowledge our behaviors — much less concede that they may have anything at all to do with the State of the World today?
The question is not limited to the obviously and painfully inept way that we are handling our global political affairs (i.e., Crimea, Syria, Egypt, etc.). It gets down to how we are simply handling our planet itself.
For instance, we’re losing 95% of our sea scallop harvest, did you know that? I deliberately brought this up because it looks like a tiny and almost meaningless example of humanity’s careless disregard for its own future, as alluded to in the statements above. But is it?
The major problem is not the loss of scallops. That’s sad, but it’s not the planet’s major problem. The major problem is the cause of the scallop loss. The cause of the loss is the precipitous rise of acidity in the Pacific Ocean — and that portends a possibly greater challenge for the Earth.
“This is a bit of a red flag,” Chris Harley, a marine ecologist from the University of British Columbia, recently told CTV News. (CTV is a Canadian television network.) Mr. Harley’s remarks were reported recently in an article for the Common Dreams website by staff writer Jacob Chamberlain.
“The cause of this increase in acidity, scientists say, is the exponential burning of fossil fuels for energy and its subsequent pollution. Oceans naturally absorb carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fossil fuel emissions, which causes acidity to rise,” Mr. Chamberlain wrote. Then he quoted Mr. Harley as saying that “an overdose of carbon in the atmosphere subsequently causes too much acidity in the world’s oceans.”
“Oyster hatcheries along the West Coast are also experiencing a steep decline, CTV News reports,” Mr. Chamberlain wrote.
Why is even this a problem? “Whenever we see an impact at some level of the food chain, there is a cascading effect at other levels of the food chain,” Peter Ross, identified by Mr. Chamberlain as “an expert in ocean pollution science,” said in the Common Dreams story.
Mr. Chamberlain goes on to write that “A recent study warned that ocean acidification is accelerating at a rate unparalleled in the life of the oceans—perhaps the fastest rate in the planet’s existence—which is degrading marine ecosystems on a mass scale.”
So what…some might say. So the “marine ecosystem” is degrading. Even if on a “mass scale,” does this matter?
Yes. We depend heavily on the health of the oceans. And a recent study published in Nature (described by Wikipedia as a prominent interdisciplinary scientific journal first published in 1869) was put in perspective by German marine biologist Hans Poertner in the Chamberlain article.
“The current rate of change is likely to be more than 10 times faster than it has been in any of the evolutionary crises in the earth’s history,” Mr. Chamberlain quoted Mr. Poertner as saying.
“Poertner says that if humanity’s industrial carbon emissions continue with a ‘business as usual’ attitude, levels of acidity in the world’s oceans will be catastrophic,” Mr. Chamberlain’s article for Common Dreams concludes.
The authors of the study conclude that the diversity of responses of sea life to acidification could lead to profoundly altered ocean ecosystems in the future. Yet, with all that said, the biggest thing about ocean acidification is that it is a sure and certain warning sign that global warming is not — as many humans continue to insist — a figment of our imagination, and/or unimportant to the planet’s future.
Next month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will issue its most recent report, according to environmental journalist Fiona Harvey.
“The IPCC report, the first since 2007, will provide a comprehensive picture of our knowledge of climate change,” Ms. Harvey explains in a previous Common Dreams article.
“It is expected to show that scientists are at least 95% certain that global warming is happening and caused by human activity,” Ms. Harvey reports.
There seems very little remaining doubt among scientists about this. What will it take for the largest number of humans outside of scientific circles to believe it? That becomes one of the crucial questions of our age. And if human beings in large numbers ever do believe it, what will it take for all of us to actually do something about it?
For that matter, what, if anything, can be done?
These are the questions being placed now before the members of the Evolution Revolution. For more information on this, see the blue box in the right-hand column of the Front Page of this online newspaper.
I do not believe that nothing can be done. Every major change that has ever occurred on this planet began with a conversation. You are invited to join in that conversation here, in the Comments Section immediately below, as well as in the Evolution Revolution Discussion Groups worldwide.