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A Planet on Loan from Our Children. George Seielstad April 21, 2005. Spaceship Earth. Single, Interconnected System. Common Home for All Humanity. Benevolent Habitat for Diverse Life. Stunningly Beautiful. Finite. Fragile. Finiteness. Earth, from 3.7 billion miles Voyager 1

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a planet on loan from our children

A Planet on Loan from Our Children

George Seielstad

April 21, 2005

spaceship earth
Spaceship Earth

Single, Interconnected System

Common Home for All Humanity

Benevolent Habitat for Diverse Life

Stunningly Beautiful

Finite

Fragile

slide4

Finiteness

Earth, from

3.7 billion miles

Voyager 1

June 6, 1990

slide6

Density of Thermo-

sphere down

10% in 35 years.

slide8

It’s in our hands.

Tomorrow’s world will be

built by us today.

Humans are the dominant

force causing planetary

change.

Humans are also

Earth’s stewards.

wisest policy
Wisest Policy

Treat the Earth well.

It was not given to you by

your parents.

It was loaned to you by

your children.

Kenyan Proverb

why us

In one century:

Our numbers exploded.

Our technologies empowered us

Our abilities grew faster than our

understanding of their consequences.

Why Us?
ecosystem or human made services
Ecosystem or Human-made Services?

● Nutrient Recycling

● Water Purification

● Climate Moderation

● Pollination

● Soil Stabilization

● Genetic Archive

● Aesthetics

human longevity
Human Longevity
  • In 1900: 46 years
  • In 2000: 77 years
20 th century global growth
Characteristic

Population

Economy

Industrial Output

Energy Use

CO2 Emissions

Water Use

Marine Fish Catch

Blue Whales

Factor of Increase

4 x

14 x

40 x

16 x

17 x

9 x

35 x

0.0025 x

20th Century Global Growth

O’Neill, Something New Under the Sun (2000), p. 360.

global future

2100

Global Future
  • If nothing slows greenhouse gas emissions. . .
    • CO2 concentrations will exceed 700 ppm by 2100
    • Global average temperatures will rise 2.5 – 10.4 F
human domination land

Cultivated

Natural

AAAS Atlas of Population & Environment (2000)

Human Domination--Land
  • 39-50% of land’s surface transformed.
  • >55% of biological productivity used by humans.
  • Earth’s 3 most abundant plants =

Rice, Wheat, Corn

  • Global homogenization of landscapes

Vitousek et al., Science 277, pp. 494-499 (1997).

slide20

http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/wri94-4001/fig1www.gif

http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/wri94-4001/fig1www.gif

slide23

Biomass of

Sugar Beet Tops

Leaf Color Acre N

Yellow9.03 130

Yellow Green53.80 110

Green73.50 80

Dark Green15.34 60

Normal Application

150 lbs per acre

Precision Application

90 lbs per acre

savings over 4 years
Savings over 4 years

1010 acres of Beets / year

Avg Nitrogen Reduction 60# /acre

101 tons less in the Environment

Total Savings over 4 Years

>$51,000

human domination water
Human Domination--Water
  • Humanity uses >50% of surface freshwater
  • In U.S., only 2% of rivers run unimpeded.
  • Many rivers no longer reach the sea.
dams impacts on rivers
Dams’ Impacts on Rivers

Green, unimpacted

Yellow, moderately impacted

Red, strongly impacted

Nilsson et al., Science 308, 405 (2005)

global water

By 2050, 45% of

world’s people will

live where water

supply is less than

daily requirement!

GlobalWater
slide28

Newfoundland Fishery

Defying the Kenyan Proverb

slide30

Bird & Mammal Extinctions

40

Number of Extinct Species

20

0

1600-

1649

1700-

1749

1800-

1849

1900-

1949

Years

Extinction rate now 100-1000 x natural rate.

global experiment

Now living beyond Earth’s carrying

capacity---by depriving

future generations.

Now living beyond Earth’s carrying

capacity---by depriving

future generations.

Global Experiment

More people are using more resources with more intensity than at any time in human history.

slide33

.

Day 1

slide47

Day 12

repeat

How much need one

find to meet future

needs?

slide48

Find twice as much as

has been used in

all of history…

to add 1 more

day’s consumption

For the 16th day, find

twice as much again.

significance

2004 Nobel Peace Prize to

Wangari Maathai

Significance

Peace, Democracy, Sustainability

areindivisible

Can have none where poverty overwhelms.

slide50

Afghanistan

Haiti

Iraq

Sudan

Rwanda

Burundi

Jared Diamond, Collapse (2005), p. 496

Peace/Democracy/Sustainability

slide51

Poverty Environmental Stress

Disaster Violence

Government Collapse

Haiti

where humans live and how
Where Humans Live…and How

Pressure on Planet = Population + Affluence

consumption

US: <5% pop.

>25% consumption

30% pollution

280 million Americans equivalent to 4 billion

rural Indonesians and rural Brazilians

AAAS Atlas of Population & Environment (2000)

Consumption

“The world supplies enough to meet everyone’s

need but not everyone’s greed.” Ghandi

slide54

U.S.’s Impact

If everybody lived as we do,

we’d need 5 planets.

sustainability
Sustainability
  • World cannot provide First World lifestyles for all Third World people.
  • Third World people deserve equivalent lifestyles.
  • First World’s Core Values must change:
    • Unlimited growth
    • Use-Discard Cycle of nonrenewables
    • Short-term Planning
optimism
Optimism

If people are the problem, we are also the solution.

“What we have before us are some

breathtaking opportunities

disguised as insoluble problems.”

John Gardner, Pres. Johnson’s

Secy. of Health, Education, Welfare

21 st century capability
21st Century Capability

Possible for the first time to quantify

and monitorentireBiospheric Health

problem solving communities
Problem-Solving Communities

Possible to inform and to be informed

by many sharing common interests.

A Global Mind for the

Global Environment

triggering change
Triggering Change

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever did.”

Margaret Mead

live sustainably
Live Sustainably
  • Consume less
  • Satisfy Need not Greed
  • Conserve
  • Discard less
  • Emulate Nature’s No-Waste Cycles
world s most needed qualities
World’s MostNeeded Qualities
  • Original, Creative Thought
  • Intellectual Rigor and Open-Mindedness
  • Acceptance of Hard Evidence
  • Willingness to Embrace the New
  • Communication using Reason and Rationality
  • Rejection of Pure Marketing
reality
Reality

“Reality must take precedence

over public relations, for nature

cannot be fooled.”

Richard Feynman

pillar of humanity ability to understand nature

March 29, 2005

Donald Kennedy

Editor-in-Chief

8 April 2005

When Sentiment and Fear Trump Reason and RealityBy LAWRENCE M. KRAUSS

Backward Evolution

By Richard Cohen

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Pillar of Humanity:Ability to Understand Nature
fate of world
Fate of World

The privilege of an education

confers the responsibility to

confront the world’s problems.

slide66

Earth Day

Commitment

To all children

Of all species

For all time