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Go, go, go said the bird: human kind Cannot bear very much reality T.S. Eliot (in Burnt Norten, Four Quartets). ... the problem is “not seeing what we don’t want to see” (“willful blindness”) J ohn Casti, X-Events, 2012. Small Steps in the Right Direction or

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Go, go, go said the bird: human kind

Cannot bear very much reality

T.S. Eliot (in Burnt Norten, Four Quartets)

... the problem is “not seeing what we don’t want to see”

(“willful blindness”)

John Casti, X-Events, 2012


Small Steps in the Right Direction

or

A Fundamental Change of how we are in the World?

Will EPA’s proposed limits on carbon pollution make a difference?

Hans-Peter Plag

(Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative,

Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA)

[email protected]


April 18, 2008, Stony Brook, Earth Week:

Sustainability: A Mosaic of Many Small Steps in the Right Direction

Lovelock (and many others):

- Planet is on a run-away path; could reach a warm state

(5 C warmer) already in 2050

Australia

China

USA

Germany

Lovelock:

- Carrying capacity of the planet would be reduced to 1 Billion

- Recommendation: look for the lifeboats


Are we on Titanic after it hit the iceberg?

Captain E.J. Smith: “I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.”

There were lifeboats for about half of the passengers, but only 1/3 made it into them -

I hope, we can do better.



ON THE EDGE?

Earth is on the Edge

?

Humanity as a global species is on the edge

“Safe operating space for humanity”

Rockstroem et al., 2009

We don’t know where the edges are, but we keep running faster and faster ...

(On The Edge @ RunningInFog)




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We are Reengineering the Planet ...

4

3

IPCC Assessment:

Very Likely

2

1

  • Marcott et al., 2013


Anthropocene: An Epoch of our Making?

“Has human activity over the past two centuries pushed the Earth out of the Holocene and into the Anthropocene?”

James Syvitski, 2012.

The Anthropocene: A transition to a new epoch?

- a slowly hitting asteroid

- a planetary accident

- an extinction-class event

Plag, 2013

We have moved from to back seats of the bus into the driver seat ...


Small Steps no longer make much sense ...

We need a fundamental change of how we are in the world ...


What Would this Fundamental Change be?

Millennium Development Goals (2005-2015): Mostly not reached

Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2025): Proposed, look very good ...

SDGs:

1 Thriving lives and livelihoods

2 Sustainable food security

3 Secure sustainable water

4 Universal clean energy

5 Healthy and productive ecosystems

6 Governance for sustainable societies

Griggs et al., 2013


What Would this Fundamental Change be?

Sustainable Development:

“Development that meets the needs of the presence while safeguarding Earth’s

life-support system, on which the welfare of current and future generation depends”

Griggs et al., 2013

Economy is the link between humanity and Earth’s life support system

Plag et al., 2013


What Would this Fundamental Change be?

Sustainable Development:

“Development that meets the needs of the presence while safeguarding Earth’s

life-support system, on which the welfare of current and future generation depends”

2,500 years ago: Hippocrates introduce an oath that focused medical activities and the benefit of the patients.

We propose an “economic oath” that focusses economy on the benefit of humanity:

“Participating in economic activities, I will strive to satisfy the needs of the people while safeguarding Earth’s life-support system, on which the welfare of current and future generations depends.”

Plag et al., 2013


Small Steps in the Right Direction

or

A Fundamental Change of how we are in the World?

Will EPA’s proposed limits on carbon pollution make a difference?

EPA’s proposal is a small step in the right direction.

Many years ago, this would have been great!

Today, it is far too little, far too late.

It won’t stop the run-away truck ...


“No problem can be solved with the same consciousness that created it.”

Albert Einstein

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it”

Upton Sinclair


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