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Saturday, July 21, 2012

PLANET EARTH AND HUMANITY INDEX

Various internet fora I interact with all agree that global climate change itself is not necessarily the only indicator of the Planet Earth's health and well-being of Humanity.  We need an easily understandable and compelling INDEX of meaning.  

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has had their Doomsday Clock since 1947.  They initially set it at 7 minutes to midnight for nuclear cataclysm.  The hand jumped to 2 minutes in 1953 when the Soviet Union and U.S. exploded Hydrogen Bombs.  Since 2007, though, they added global warming and "new science" to the concern, and the clock is now at 5 minutes to midnight.  However, they lack the credibility for the world to take their clock too seriously.

This blog will someday arrive at a Planet Earth and Humanity Index (first, of course, I will need to change that name, and second, develop some graphics to grab the reader).  Three organizations of some noteworthiness are attempting to address this larger picture, and doing poorly at it.  

The Stockholm Resistance Centre presented their case in Nature of nine limits for our planet:

  -  ocean acidification
  -  thinning of the ozone layer
  -  nitrogen and phosphate cycles
  -  conversion of wilderness
  -  extinctions
  -  chemical pollutants
  -  particulates in the atmosphere

They gave numbers for the first seven and are working on the latter two.


You've got to give the United Nations some credit for trying under almost impossible conditions, much of this internally, as it is not easy to herd 193 cats.  Anyway, Their High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability is attempting to place planetary boundaries.  They held an international conference this past Spring in London, Planet Under Pressure, with an unfortunate acronym, PUP, focusing on solutions to the global sustainability challenge.  They made a move at Rio+20, but that was partly to offset the anticipated embarrassment of the inaction for carbon dioxide control.  The case was presented that the world is threatened by a lot more than this simple gas.  

Third, the Breakthrough Institute (BI), to quote from their web page:

...is a paradigm-shifting think tank committed to modernizing liberal thought for the 21st Century. Our core values are integrity, imagination and audacity. Our goal is to accelerate the transition to a future where all the world's inhabitants can enjoy secure, free, prosperous, and fulfilling lives on an ecologically vibrant plan

Much of their philosophy is presented in Break Through.  While the Scandinavian effort does have international representation, this is an American think-tank focusing on energy and the environment.  In summary, BI argues that aims to return to the Holocene (when Mankind came of age) Period might well be obsolete, and we should optimize for this Anthropocene (age of Man) Period.  In any case, the tipping point factor underscored by the Stockholm Resilience Centre has considerable merit.

While they are similar in general philosophy, GRIST seems to consistently rail against BI.  The point I make is that all four organizations are right in their own way.  They all want to help Planet Earth and us.  How, now, to optimize the process to do something real?

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