Environmentalism for a small planet
Whole Earth Discipline by Stewart Brand
The environmental movement
has morphed steadily into the climate change movement... that
means that Greens are no longer strictly the defenders of
natural systems against the incursions of civilization; now
they're the defenders of civilization as well.
aboard Spaceship Earth
The renowned 20th century
futurist, R Buckminster Fuller envisioned our home world as essentially
a transport vehicle, accompanying the Sun on a voyage to “parts
unknown,” traveling across the universe. He named this vessel “Spaceship
Earth.” Another 20th century thinker, chemist James Lovelock
envisioned earth as an integrated and self-regulating (sentient) system
that adapts and maintains the suitable conditions for life on our
planet. He named this entity “Gaia.” It is in the blending of
these two visions of Earth that EcoTek proceeds.
The diameter of our Earth is a
mere 7,926 miles... contrasted with our solar system... with a diameter
of 2,790,000,000 miles... Earth is but a
speck of air, water, fire and soil in the vastness of space. Our solar
system, in turn, is but a speck compared to the Milky Way galaxy...
which is but a freckle on the face of universe. However... to the flora
and fauna on Earth... this planet is a vast, incredibly complex system
of interdependent processes of life. The geologic/bio-diversity upon
and within our planet is
nothing short of a miracle. As stated above, a useful
analogy is Lovelock's
Gaia Hypothesis in which Earth is seen as a living organism.
It is reasonable and fast becoming
necessary for earthling humans to actively assume the role of
stewards of our small planet. This is so because it is also reasonable
to assume the responsibility that humanity has, through advanced
agriculture practices and fossil fuel consumption, added a
slight yet significant burden of greenhouse gases (CO2)
to our atmosphere, thereby contributing to our planetary system's
current atmospheric irregularity.
From the onset, it is important to understand that
any perceived climate catastrophe, such as global warming, is only
catastrophic to the artifacts of human kind’s civilization. Earth and
her systems… her rhythms… will be just fine, thank you very
much. It is merely
humans and their systems that will be adversely impacted... for it is
humanity that is dependant upon the Earth, not the other way around. It is now vital that we
view the future with the eye of an environmentalist so we may ascertain
and address our home world's atmospheric imbalance with a goal of planetary
For clarification on what is considered planetary
climatic equilibrium, the amount of greenhouse gases in earth's atmosphere
is measured and compared to historic levels. These gases are measured in parts per million.
Up until 200 years ago, the historic norm was 275 part per million.
350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and
progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit
for CO2 in our atmosphere. Today, the ratio stands
at 390 ppm and rising
a little more than 2 ppm annually. Having Exceeded the 350 ppm mark
indicates that our planet (and its atmosphere) has gone beyond the point
of no return for the old equilibrium. The resulting effects of exceeding
this tipping point is collectively referred to as "climate
If humanity takes climate change seriously and acts now, we may be able
to achieve a new planetary equilibrium and stabilize at around 450 ppm
within the next 25 to 50 years. Leveling off at 450 ppm could result in a
global temperature rise of only 3.6°
F, with a potential large loss of species, more severe storms, floods and
droughts, refugees from rising sea levels and other extreme and inhumane
consequences. Unfortunately, this is an optimistic scenario.
The two basic strategies that
humanity has at its disposal to combat climate change are
is any action taken to permanently eliminate or reduce the long-term
risk and hazards of climate change to human life and property.
This would involve altering the activities that
contribute to climate change through the application of technology and
practices. The primary example would be the immediate
cutting back of greenhouse gas emissions. This would require significant
discipline on our part, as well as technological innovation.
Adaptation would require a "coming to terms" with climate change
and managing its effects. This term refers to the ability of
a system to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and
extremes) to moderate potential damage, to take advantage of
opportunities, or to cope with the consequences.
Adaptation pertains to how we react to climate
change and what changes we make to deal with it's
advancement. One example of adaptation would involve moving
coastal populations to higher ground in anticipation of rising sea
The bottom line is that our best scientific
hypothesis is little more than a educated guess. We cannot
completely fathom the chaotic complexity of our planet's environmental
systems. Regardless, humanity must rise to
the challenge of climate change. This is perhaps the most
definitive opportunity in our lifetime for
humanity to come together and collaborate on this global
issue... responding on a global scale. If we don't act now...
we will be left with only one option... adaptation.
Find pertinent links and resources at the bottom
of this page...
Q: What if
climate change is a hoax?
Home World Stats
Current statistics for spaceship Earth...
The most important
number on the
planet. The most
recent science tells
us that unless we
can reduce the
amount of carbon
dioxide in the
atmosphere to 350
parts per million,
we will cause huge
damage to mother
Transition to a future where all the world's inhabitants can enjoy
secure, free, prosperous, and fulfilling lives on an ecologically
Whole-system pathways to a thriving sustainable planetary
Facts on health and the environment...