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The fight to get aboard Lifeboat UK

James Lovelock, The Sunday Times
When someone discovers, too late, that they are suffering from a serious and probably incurable disease and may have no more than six months to live, their first response is shock and then, in denial, they angrily try any cure on offer or go to practitioners of alternative medicine. Finally, if wise, they reach a state of calm acceptance. They know death need not be feared and that no one escapes it.

Scientists who recognise the truth about the Earth’s condition advise their governments of its deadly seriousness in the manner of a physician. We are now seeing the responses. First was denial at all levels, then the desperate search for a cure. Just as we as individuals try alternative medicine, so our governments have many offers from alternative business and their lobbies of sustainable ways to “save the planet”, and from some green hospice there may come the anodyne of hope.

Should you doubt that this grim prospect is real, let me remind you of the forces now taking the Earth to the hothouse: these include the increasing abundance of greenhouse gases from industry and agriculture, including gases from natural ecosystems damaged by global heating in the Arctic and the tropics. The vast ocean ecosystems that used to pump down carbon dioxide can no longer do so because the ocean turns to desert as it warms and grows more acidic; then there is the extra absorption of the sun’s radiant heat as white reflecting snow melts and is replaced by dark ground or ocean.
(8 February 2009)

A long article by the 90-year-old distinguished scientist. I have serious reservations about some of his opinions, such as his avid espousal of nuclear and utter rejection of renewable energy. I admire his championing of biochar. He is obviously a serious pioneering voice with much to add to the present debate. KS

Population growth: the forgotten worry, though crisis continues

Scott Learn, The Oregonian

When Jon Erlandson and his wife, Madonna Moss, were talking about how many children they should have 20 years ago, the exploding world population was front and center in their thinking.

The two anthropologists, now both University of Oregon professors, were teenagers when Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” became a non-fiction best-seller.

In the three decades between their birth and their baby-making decision, the world’s population nearly doubled, picking up more than 2 billion people.

So the couple chose to have one child, Erik, who’s now 18.

But in the two decades since, Erlandson says, the population issue “has kind of dropped off the map.”

“This used to be a big deal; people used to talk about it a lot,” said Erlandson, whose work includes studying the effects of ancient people on marine systems. “Now it’s not part of any regular dialogue about the environmental problems humans face.”

Erlandson is one of 160 scientists and thinkers who’ve signed up for a “global population speakout” this month. It’s the brainchild of John Feeney, a Colorado environmental writer who immersed himself in population issues while fighting a residential subdivision.

The participants say it’s time to talk population again. They’re worried we won’t make adequate progress on the most crucial environmental goals — reducing carbon emissions, preventing overfishing and decreasing deforestation, among them — unless we tackle growth and its ever increasing demands on the planet.
(6 February 2009)
Related: Aging population to lower B.C.’s economic performance.

Candles In The Darkness

Dave Bennett, Counter Currents
Survival is a universal topic of discussion these days, given clearly evident faltering economies, climate change and rapidly diminishing resources.

Three recent books offer guidance from seemingly disparate authors. Cy Gonick — editor of Canadian Dimension magazine — has assembled a well-ordered series of essays which provide a Canadian context on these crucial and relevant topics.

Sharon Astyk is a Shakespearian scholar turned farmer; Pat Murphy, is a computer scientist who became an activist and builder of homes engineered to consume low energy.

Astyk focuses on family, which she ultimately extends to all humanity. Murphy traces the historical roots of consumption from the time of the Roman Empire, making his point that the nature of imperial power is to pillage the resources of subjected peoples, and that modern America is no exception.

Both Astyk and Murphy write with prophetic zeal. The authors foresaw the crises in global warming and financial chaos. They offer — from different perspectives — practical guidance on ways to alleviate our predicament, coming to the same conclusion: We stand or fall together. Survival in hard times is — has always been — a matter of living together in community.
(9 February 2009)