Averting a Runaway Massive Planetary-Systems Breakdown

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Reasons for Runaway Massive Planetary-Systems Breakdown

For graphical climate data see http://www.globalwarmingart.com/. The history channel sells a $25 DVD, "Mega Disasters: Mega Freeze" at http://store.aetv.com/html/product/add_to_cart.jhtml?_DARGS=/html/product/index.jhtml

See the editorial reviews for The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth (Paperback) by Tim Flannery, also for Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change by Elizabeth Kolbert.

In addition to some of the well-known aspects of greenhouse effect, global warming, climate change and earth's "colossal" carbon dioxide pollution problem discussed in these books, or listed below, plans for a community wiki site on these topics include practices and the material strata embodied in these problems, hence (1) Ecological and human "polycultural being in a monocultural world" and (2) "Complex interactions in the finite calculus of materiality." These projects are undertaken with ecological designers of The Harrison (Complexity) Studios.

Level 1: Human Activity

Global clearing of forests (reducing atmospheric oxygen), global pollution of particulates (settling on glaciers and icecaps), global industrial e.g., coal, energy inefficiency in housing, and agricultural release of CO2 as well as pastoral release of methane...

are but three of many factors producing effects at the next level.

Level 2: Climate

  • Global warming (e.g., caused by greater CO2 and methane concentrations trapping heat in the lower atmosphere) Keeling curve for rise in carbon dioxide
  • The clearing of forests for "green revolution" agriculture based on fertilizers reduces ability to sequester carbon through absorption of carbon as humus back into the earth.
  • Melting of glaciers and icecaps (due to particulates absorbing surface heat in cold regions) 2005 study p.946, for example: "A generalized retreat of glaciers has been documented in the central Chilean Andes. This can be a consequence of the impact of recent changes in atmospheric variables such as temperature and precipitation. Analysis of the available weather station data indicates a surface warming of 1.3ºC since the 1960s." Thats a huge change.
  • Melting of tundra with massive release of methane into the atmosphere. (Current estimates per year: the impact on global warming is equivalent to that of the the total yearly American CO2 release into the atmosphere).
  • Acidification of the oceans (caused by processes whereby air pollution – mainly ammonia, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – is converted into acid substances) depletes the sea life that help to sequester CO2 at the ocean bottom.
  • Human influences on the nitrogen cycle can lead to decrease in biodiversity - species dieoff, as can increased nitrogen flux caused by enhanced hydrological cycles caused by global warming. See first 13 slides of talk by Larri Li

These warming effects are multiplicative (e.g., CO2 as a trigger for water vapor) and produce effects at the next level.


Level 3: Water and Oceans

  • Drying up of rivers fed by glaciers (decline in glacial runoffs)
  • Drying of interior land masses - with less transpiration dryness reduces rain, producing drought
  • [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shutdown_of_thermohaline_circulation Thermohaline circulation' supporting warm North Atlantic currents interrupted by glacial melt, pumping fresh water into North Atlantic, with lesser density, having the effect of sinking the denser Gulf waters more quickly so that the warm currents do not reach the north.
  • Major continental regions (e.g., midwest grain basket) undergo long term and recurrent drought, massively reducing work food supply
  • Depopulation of marine life on coral reefs (due to warming)
  • Warming increases the intensity of El Niño, and tropical storm incubation producing major increases in hurricanes and typhoons*Rising oceans (due to melting and heat expansion of water)
  • See Jon Gertner's October 20, 2007 The Future Is Drying Up.
  • These climate effects are multiplicative and produce effects in turn at the next level.
  • Scientific American Feb 2008, Robin Bell: The Unquiet Ice - Conditions for slippage of the polar icecaps began in 2001, nonlinear increase of melted water under the icecaps. Slippage into the ocean would cause a 200 foot rise in sea level. Digital - full - edition of the article

Conversation on shrinkage and growth

Level 4: Populations

  • Mass dehydration and starvation inland due to lack of potable waters and agricultural nutrients
  • Mass displacement of populations in the littoral areas close to the oceans where 8/10ths of our cities are located, and 80+% of human populations.

These population effects are multiplicative and produce effects at the next level.

Level 5: Dieoff

  • Massive Planetary-Systems Breakdown: How humans are affected
  • Mass species dieoff
  • Science writer (somewhere I learned that each 1°F planetary warming equals 1 million atomic bomb blasts) Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet Mark Lynas: (Hardcover) National Geographic

Level 0: Human Cognition and Beliefs

Rather than discuss beliefs with "whole-earth costs" -- unsustainable beliefs that operate at a scale of consequences that satisfy the condition of destructive effects for the planet -- that might no longer be rational in the present circumstances, we might consider how the massive downside risks that we face in planetary interdependencies can be considered within a framework of polycultural beliefs.

Multiplicative Effects

The ecological and sustainability effects are multiplicative. Currently, trends in each of these levels and areas are being extrapolated linearly in the popular press and as reported in scientific journals. To begin to inventory all the nonlinear and multiplicative effects, simply Google: NonLinearity + "Global warming".

The multiplicative effects at each level accelerate the rates of change at each level, successively, and again multiplicatively.

For the August 2007 blog alert as to nonlinear effects see: Nicholas D. Kristoff "The Big Melt".

This will precipitate a runaway massive planetary-systems breakdown far sooner than expected. How can this be avoided?

initial maps of multiple interacting elements and lobbyist attacks

Science Writer Fred Pearce: With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change

For both fundamental climate science and a more standard American-business and policy response stressing engineering solutions, see Dan Schrag Ulam Lectures

Reframing the ecological costs of human activities

Srinivasan, U., S. Carey, E. Hallstein, Paul A. T. Higgins, A. Kerr, L. Koteen, A. Smith, R. Watson, J. Harte, and R. Norgaard. 2008. The debt of nations and the distribution of ecological impacts from human activities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 105, pp. 1768-1773. http://www.pnas.org/content/105/5/1768.abstract

"Climate change and ozone depletion impacts ... for low-income nations have been overwhelmingly driven by emissions from" middle-income and rich nations, "a pattern also observed for overfishing damages indirectly driven by the consumption of fishery products."
"Indeed, through disproportionate emissions of greenhouse gases alone, the rich group may have imposed climate damages on the poor group greater than the latter's current foreign debt."

Averting a Runaway Massive Planetary-Systems Breakdown

  • Define and study planetary holocost: The cost of beliefs that when put into operation at a sufficiently large scale have the effect of planetary degradation and massive destruction of all species of its inhabitants.
  • Understand and work on a global scale the holocost beliefs that create "Runaway Massive Planetary-Systems Breakdown" and avoid preventative remedies to planetary holocaust.
  • Massive industrial investment in carbon sinks to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Replacement of forest clearing with forest replenishment worldwide. Tropical forests produce (60%?) of the planetary oxygen.
  • Suppression of all particulate emission that creates melting.
  • Cessation of the breakup of arctic ice and industrialization/extraction of the arctic and antarctic.
  • Conversion to manufacturing processes in which all elements of manufacture are recyclable.
  • Total substitution of renewable energy for fossil energy
  • As populations at the littorals of the ocean are resettled upland:
  • Conversion to energy efficient housing (e.g., Buckminster Fuller energy design)
  • Conversion to predominant self-sustainability in the local habitat
  • Conversion to energy efficient manufacturing processes
  • Conversion to energy efficient transport processes

What kinds of people have started to think through these steps and do them?

3-19-09 http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/19/electric-cars-for-all-no-really-this-time/
1-1-09 http://www.newsweek.com/id/178851
4-14-09 Whole countries without oil talk by Shai Agassi

Dr. Wangari Maathai

Institutional Response

Global Change, Energy, and Sustainable Resources. Former Jefferson Science Fellow, U.S. Department of State (2005/2006, -2010)

Conversational response

Conversation on shrinkage and growth

Conversation on reciprocity

Conversation on cohesive force

Economic Issues of the Day

Journal response

l'Ecologiste Paradox of sustainable development

Appropriate technology

MIT researchers split water to solve energy problem

Distributed renewable energy debate

Global climate change tracked by GIS

100 Ways to Save The Environment



Energy collapse, massive food shortage

Environmental stress threatens global security, UCI study finds

A Proposal from The Harrison Studio

Peninsular Europe, by Harrison Studio, and the role of ecological art, iconography, reconceptualizing, reshaping and reorganizing our human and ecological practices on continental, planetary, and grounded local scales.

Breaking news Nov 2009: Each year a distinguished jury awards a $100,000 prize to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. This year the Harrisons are being interviewed as contenders for the prize. Doug 11:11, 28 November 2009 (PST)

Proposals from Douglas R. White


Journal of Water Resource and Protection


Climate Study Group

Nature Reports: Climate change

Ice-free Arctic could be here in 23 years The Guardian

Anthropogenic Change/Anthropogenic Climate Impacts 2007 The Guardian

Sherwood on Climate FAQs

Glacial melting BBC

US Senate Energy & Natural Resources

James Hansen (wikipedia), Goddard climate scientist, has a series of some of the most important -- recent articles on global warming.

Scientific reticence and sea level rise. Hansen, J.E., 2007. Environ. Res. Lett., 2, 024002

Hansen, J., Mki. Sato, P. Kharecha, G. Russell, D.W. Lea, and M. Siddall, 2007: Climate change and trace gases. Phil. Trans. Royal. Soc. A, 365, 1925-1954

Links to the STERN REPORT and articles on Global Warming from THE INDEPENDENT Science editors

Global Warming and the Stern Report: A look at the controversy over our future. FAQS on Global Warming Hired Gins Aim to Confuse (global warming issues).

The Tragedy of the Commons Garrett Hardin 1968 AAAS Presidential Address

Footprint calculator