Eearth Culture
making western society sustainable

The Long Future - Planetary Boundaries - Climate Change - Biosphere Integrity - Collapse
Gaia Theory - We Are Of The Environment - The Anthropocene - Phytoplankton - Many Good Ideas

Eearth Knowledge
The Long Future

The Long Future is a concept founded in 2014 that considers the opportunity for the humans to live on the Earth for millions of years into the future. Scientists tell us that the Earth will naturally be in the 'habitable zone' for another 1 - 2 billion years. If we humans are clever, we won't disturb this, and get to enjoy a long future, as well.

The diagram shows the Circumstellar Habitable Zone. This is the orbit around the sun in which water exists in all three phases (solid, liquid and gas) and permits the 'habitability of Earth for life.

With about 275 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere our orbit around the sun where it is not too hot, nor too cold for life to flourish. If the atmospheric greenhouse concentration remains constant, Earth will remain in the habitable zone for another 1 - 2 billion years. Beyond this time, the sun will expand and Earth will become too hot to sustain life.

This tells us that Earth could be habitable for a very long time (the Long Future). While the Earth's biosphere will survive - in one form or another - the big question is, will the humans...

The Long Future diagram below shows the decline in availability of natural capital and increase in demand for natural capital due to human behaviour.

The diagrams illustrates that the biosphere will enjoy the Long Future, in one form or another.

The question is, will the humans?

Planetary Boundaries

The Planterary Boundaries is an initiative of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. It describes the nine biophysical boundaries in the Earth System that if crossed threaten the well-being of humanity.

The diagram shows that we have already busted through four of the nine boundaries that define the safe operating space for humanity.

  • Climate Change
  • Biogeochemical flows
  • Land system change
  • Biosphere integrity

If humans continue to degrade the structure of the natural environment then we humans will be swept off the face of this planet for ever.

For the planet, that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. But for we humans, it would be a global tragedy.

Of the four broke boundaries, two are regarded as core.

  • Climate Change
  • Biosphere Integrity

Climate Change

Climate change is one of the biggest drivers of global change today.

Here, leading scientists and commentators describe the development of climate science over the years.

 

Biosphere Integrity

One of the Core Planetary boundaries is Biosphere Integrity - the integrity of the living system of Earth.

Presently, the world is undergoing the Sixth Extinction of life on earth, and as a result, Biosphere Integrity is being severely damaged.

There are two components:

  • Genetic Diversity
  • Functional Diversity

Genetic diversity is clearly beyond the planetary boundary, and functional diversity is currently lacking sufficient data.

The diagram shows the manner in which the other planetary boundaries affect Biosphere Integrity.

 
The Anthropocene Epoch

We all love the movie Jurassic Park, but what is a Jurassic? The Jurassic is an period of geological time millions of years ago. It is defined by the world's geologists through the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS).

So what is the name of the geological period that we are living in today? Well, the answer to that question has changed recently after a vote at 35th International Geological Congress in August 2016.

Today, we humans are living in the Anthropocene Epoch.

And when did the Anthropocene start? That question is as yet, unanswered.

In August 2016 , the Anthropocene Working Group held its vote about whether we humans were still in the geological epoch called the Holocene, or indeed whether there were sufficient geological reasons to call a new Epoch.

The results of the vote are shown in the image (right) It was agreed that:

  • Yes, we were in the Anthropocene;
  • The Anthropocene is an Epoch;
  • It started around 1950;
  • About a third of the members believed that plutonium fallout was the geological marker that could be used to identify the Anthropocene Epoch.

It may be a few years before the official start date of the Anthropocene is agreed. This article by the Guardian describes the detail, nicely.

Click image so see paper:
Making the case for a formal Anthropocene Epoch: An analysis of ongoing critiques.

 

This is where the name got started...

Human civilization has emerged in the past 12,000 years, in a geological era known as the Holocene.

However, humans have become such a dominant force on Earth that geologists talk of us having created a geological epoch of our own: the Anthropocene.

We Are Of The Environment

We humans made of water, air and minerals from the soil. We are in effect packets of condensed gas - CO2 and oxygen - and minerals from the biophysical flux that surrounds us. We humans are composed of the environment.

Every day we absorb air, water and food from the environment, and we exhale gas and excrete material. Thus the environment flows through us.

We are intimately connected via our breath to the atmosphere and we share our breaths with every other person on Earth and with every other breathing organism. The atmosphere joins us all, friends and enemies alike.

The oxygen in every breath we take has passed through the metabolic pathways of phytoplankton and terrestrial plants. Oxygen occupies every one of cells. This is so fundamental to our existence that if we stop exchanging air with the atmosphere, we are pronounced dead: 'stopped breathing'.

Because we are comprised of our environment, and the environment pulses in and out of us, we must ensure that our environment is healthy, otherwise it will pollute our bodies and make us sick.

We must protect our environment because we are the environment.

Gaia Theory

Gaia Theory : A scientific theory by James Lovelock that Earth's living systems behave as a single super-organism that maintains homeostasis, creating conditions suited to its own wellbeing. <gaiatheory.org>

Eearth believes that humans have been formed by Gaia in order to do things for Earth that the other natural systems can do themselves. Here is an engaging interpretation of Gaia by Michael Kleider, with Eearth commentary, below.

Eearth commentary on the Michael Kleider video: The idea of humans populating other planets is theoretically sound, but practically not something that needs to be attempted for maybe another 500 million years. The major challenge for humans is not space engineering and going to Mars but learning how to live on our planet planet without destroying its living systems. Also, we humans are not yet emotionally developed enought to go to other planets. The last thing that we would want to inflict on another planet is humans, carrying their ecocidal belief systems. Likewise, the laser that shoots down the asteroid. Nice in theory, but right now, the biggest threat to humanity is humanity, not an asteroid.

Collapse

While much attention is focussed on climate change, the real peril to human civilization is the synergystic interplay of a dozen simultaneous crises that threatens humanity.

If you are unsure about this claim, consider the facts:

The points above relate to Earth's ecosystem, however, there are Collapse issues associated with human society, as well.

Thermodynamic Oil Collapse

Apart from the ecological aspects of Collapse, there are also thermodynamic issues associated with oil supply.

Oil is the largest source of humanity's consumed energy and is critical for almost every aspect of life, from transport, materials and food.

Unfortunatley, oil supply is constrained by physical laws as described in the video on thermodynamic oil collapse.

Nuclear Weapons

 

There are 18,000 nuclear weapons on Earth and over 400 nuclear powerstations;

Population

There are 7,300,000,000 million people on Earth, and an additional 75,000,000 are added to this total every year...

Phytoplankton

Guy Lane talks about Plankton Humility.

 

Plankton are the tiny organisms that drift around the ocean. Some are are plants (phytoplankton), some are animals (zooplankton), and some of the animal plankton will grow up into big things, like fish. There are millions off different types of plankton, and they do many different things including:

- Create half of the oxygen in the atmosphere.
- Absorb and sequester CO2, helping to stabilize the climate.
- Produce a chemical that helps to form clouds and make rain.
- Provide a source of food for the creatures that we call seafood.

Plankton: we can't do without them

However, in the last 50 years, we have lost 40% of the world's plankton due to climate change caused by human action (burning fossil fuels).

And yet, we continue to burn fossil fuels.

If we humans are to survive on this planet, we need to view nature as sacred.

Many Good Ideas

 

Understanding the sustainability problematique and knowing how to respond can be informed by understanding a range of existing and interconnected ideas that include, but is not limited to:

Planetary Boundaries - The Blue Economy - The Long Future - UN Human Rights - The Earth Charter - The Doughnut - The Natural Step - Ecocide Legislation - Permaculture - Gaia Theory

Planetary Boundaries : The work of the Stockholm Resilience Centre suggests that there are nine biophysical systems that need to be protected in order to ensure a safe operating space for humanity. Four of these boundaries have already been exceeded.
See: <stockholmresilience.org>

Blue Economy : A concept by Gunter Pauli about a global economic system that restores natural capital. See: <theblueeconomy.org>

Human Rights : United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: <ohchr.org>

The Earth Charter : A global consensus statement of values and principles for a sustainable future, the Earth Charter is a declaration of responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations. <earthcharter.org>

The Doughnut : Alternative approaches to economics including ecological, feminist, and evolutionary economics, along with systems thinking and Earth-system science – have valuable insights if we are to achieve human rights and well-being for all within the means of this one planet. <kateraworth.com>

Long Future : A concept of the Long Future Foundation which states that, as that Earth will be in the circumstellar habitable zone for a billion years or more, this period is the alloted time of humans on Earth and should form a temporal framework for our strategic planning. <longfuture.org>

The Natural Step : A framework by Karl Henrik Robert that simply explains key elements of sustainability. <thenaturalstep.org>

Eradicating Ecocide : as it stands, it is not illegal to destroy the environment. Plans are afoot to change this with a proposal to amend the Rome Statute to include the crime of Ecocide. The Rome Statute underpins the International Criminal Court that presently focuses on the most serious crimes against the international community including crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and the crime of aggression. <eradicatingecocide.com>

Permaculture : shorthand for permanent agriculture. <permaculturefundamentals.com>