The Climate Change Era Is Already Upon Us

image_largeWe’re beyond debating the existence of climate change. Impacts we’re seeing now should compel us to reduce emissions further and start planning in earnest. It’s time to quit dithering.

Jane Lubchenco and Thomas Lovejoy, The Daily Climate, October 28, 2013

We have been given a sobering glimpse into the speed of our changing climate and the vulnerabilities of our world. It turns out we must focus greater attention to the tropics, where so much of humanity and wildlife live, and to our oceans.

A sophisticated analysis, published in the premier scientific journal Nature by a team of young scientists at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, shows that impacts of climate change are already dramatic, with much more to come. While policymakers posture, dither and deny, the unraveling has already begun. Many changes will continue in the years ahead, but we can slow them and buffer some of their impacts – if we act. Continue lendo

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Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

Bill McKibben, Rolling Stone, August 2nd, 2012

If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven’t convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.

Meteorologists reported that this spring was the warmest ever recorded for our nation – in fact, it crushed the old record by so much that it represented the “largest temperature departure from average of any season on record.” The same week, Saudi authorities reported that it had rained in Mecca despite a temperature of 109 degrees, the hottest downpour in the planet’s history. Continue lendo

El clima de la Tierra podría alcanzar un punto de no retorno

Un artículo publicado en Nature, con participación española, alerta del posible cambio irreversible del estado planetario actual por causas de origen humano. Los dos problemas principales son el consumo de combustibles fósiles y la alta tasa de crecimiento de la población mundial.

Jordi Guzmán, Pasa la vida, 7 de junio de 2012

La revista científica Nature publica esta semana un artículo, con la participación de científicos españoles, que advierte del posible cambio del estado planetario actual. Según las conclusiones, la posibilidad de alcanzar un punto de no retorno de la situación se debe al consumo de combustibles fósiles y a la alta tasa de crecimiento de la población mundial. Continue lendo

Evidence of Impending Tipping Point for Earth

ScienceDaily, June 6, 2012

A group of scientists from around the world is warning that population growth, widespread destruction of natural ecosystems, and climate change may be driving Earth toward an irreversible change in the biosphere, a planet-wide tipping point that would have destructive consequences absent adequate preparation and mitigation.

“It really will be a new world, biologically, at that point,” warns Anthony Barnosky, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of a review paper appearing in the June 7 issue of the journal Nature. “The data suggests that there will be a reduction in biodiversity and severe impacts on much of what we depend on to sustain our quality of life, including, for example, fisheries, agriculture, forest products and clean water. This could happen within just a few generations.” Continue lendo

As ciências do Sistema Terra e as disputas epistemológicas do século XXI

A ciência moderna nasce com uma dupla vocação, buscando um entendimento abrangente e verificável da realidade e o controle das forças da natureza. Mas as ciências do sistema Terra, consolidadas nas últimas décadas, apontam a necessidade não da humanidade ampliar seu controle sobre a natureza, mas refrear seu ímpeto de modela-la – apontam para o auto-controle da intervenção da sociedade sobre seu meio ambiente. Isto provoca um choque político entre cientistas e governos: figuras de proa das ciências da Terra tem sofrido censura e perseguição por suas posições. Mas há também um confronto epistemológico, um questionamento à tradição baconiana da ciência.. Poderão estas ciências oferecer um novo paradigma de cientificidade, distinto aquele que tem prevalecido nos últimos séculos?

José Correa Leite, Revista FACOM, maio de 2012

A ciência nasceu, no século XVII, com uma alma dupla, buscando um entendimento abrangente e verificável da realidade e o controle das forças da natureza. Descartes e Bacon expressam esta dupla vocação desta nova forma de conhecimento, a ciência experimental e matematizável, desenvolvida por Galileu e Newton. Sua trajetória posterior confirmou esta simbiose entre os dois aspectos – tendo cada vez mais o domínio da natureza como força motora. A transformação da tecnociência em um grande empreendimento capitalista, a partir do final do século XIX, coloca esta atividade no coração da economia contemporânea – fonte do crescimento e, portanto, do “progresso”. Continue lendo

Do Holoceno ao Antropoceno. Por outra forma de organização de vida

IHU On-line entrevista Wagner Costa Ribeiro, IHU On-line, 31 de agosto de 2011

As mudanças climáticas e o aquecimento da Terra indicam que estamos vivendo uma nova era glacial denominada de Antropoceno. A ação do homem na natureza está “promovendo alterações de grande escala na superfície terrestre há pelo menos um século” e, portanto, não é mais possível dizer que a geologia se modifica apenas em função de eventos naturais, explica Wagner Costa Ribeiro.

A ação humana acelerou o aquecimento global e, para conter os danos ambientais causados pelas mudanças climáticas, é fundamental repensar o atual modelo econômico. “Infelizmente, há uma geração bastante numerosa que acredita que a essência da vida é comprar o último eletrônico, o carro novo, a roupa nova, sendo que o telefone utilizado continua em plena condição de uso, o carro e a roupa também”, constata. Continue lendo

Geologists press for recognition of Earth-changing ‘human epoch’

Experts want the human imprint in the geological record to be acknowledged as a new epoch, the Anthropocene

Gaia Vince, guardian.co.uk, June 3, 2011

These are epoch-making times. Literally. There is now “compelling evidence”, according to an influential group of geologists, that humans have had such an impact on the planet that we are entering a new phase of geological time: the Anthropocene.

Millions of years from now, they say, alien geologists would be able to make out a human-influenced stripe in the accumulated layers of rock, in the same way that we can see the imprint of dinosaurs in the Jurassic, or the explosion of life that marks the Cambrian. Now the scientists are pushing for the new epoch to be officially recognised. Continue lendo

After the Great Quake, Living with Earth’s Uncertainty

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami remind us that we exist in geologic time and in a world where catastrophic events beyond our predicting may occur. These events — and the growing specter of climate change — show how precariously we exist on the surface of a volatile planet.

Verlyn Klinkenborg, Yale Environment 360, March 28, 2011

In my layman’s cosmology, the anthropic principle says this: our existence implies that the universe must take the shape it does or we wouldn’t be here to perceive it. A universe with even minutely different physical laws wouldn’t include us (which isn’t to say that such universes don’t exist).

An anthropic principle of sorts is also at work in geologic time — the 4.5 billion or so years this planet has existed. For the vast majority of Earth’s history, conditions were unsuitable for the evolution of mammals. (Nor were humans even remotely certain to evolve from those earliest mammals.) We’ve come to exist in the window of time in which we could have come to exist. Or rather, we’ve survived in the window of time in which we can survive. We call a portion of that window “historic time” — not the entire history of our species, but the history that’s part of our cultural record in one form or another, reaching back only several thousand years. Continue lendo

O antropoceno: uma nova era geológica

Leonardo Boff, IHU On-line, 8 de fevereiro de 2011

As crises clássicas conhecidas, como por exemplo a de 1929, afetaram profundamente todas as sociedades. A crise atual é mais radical, pois está atacando o nosso modus essendi: as bases da vida e de nossa civilização. Antes, dava-se por descontado que a Terra estava aí, intacta e com recursos inesgotáveis. Agora não podemos mais contar com a Terra sã e abundante em recursos. Ela é finita, degradada e com febre não suportando mais um projeto infinito de progresso. Continue lendo

The Anthropocene Debate: Marking Humanity’s Impact

Elizabeth Kolbert, Yale Environment 360, May 17, 2010

The Holocene – or “wholly recent” epoch – is what geologists call the 11,000 years or so since the end of the last ice age. As epochs go, the Holocene is barely out of diapers; its immediate predecessor, the Pleistocene, lasted more than two million years, while many earlier epochs, like the Eocene, went on for more than 20 million years. Still, the Holocene may be done for. People have become such a driving force on the planet that many geologists argue a new epoch – informally dubbed the Anthropocene – has begun. Continue lendo

Brief History, Destructive Impact: Geologists Debate ‘Human Epoch’

Mankind Leaves Mark on the Planet with the End of the 12,000-Year Holocene Age

Steve Connor, The Independent, April 6, 2010

Biologists have their principles of evolution, physicists have their laws of thermodynamics and chemists have their periodic table. For geologists, perhaps the most hallowed reference source is the Geological Time Scale, a complex timeline depicting the entire history of the Earth as a series of distinct periods, epochs and ages, from the birth of the planet 4.7 billion years ago to the present day.

The Geological Time Scale is quite literally set in stone. As geologists dig down through the different sedimentary layers of rock, they go back in time to periods when prehistoric humans with stone tools hunted mammoths, to an earlier time 100 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the land, and even to a distant era 3.8 billion years ago when life first arose in the ancient oceans of a more primitive world. Continue lendo

Earth ‘Entering New Age of Geological Time’

Murray Wardrop, The Independent, march 27, 2010

Humans have wrought such vast and unprecedented changes on the planet that we may be ushering in a new period of geological history.

Through pollution, population growth, urbanisation, travel, mining and use of fossil fuels we have altered the planet in ways which will be felt for millions of years, experts believe.

It is feared that the damage mankind has inflicted will lead to the sixth largest mass extinction in Earth’s history with thousands of plants and animals being wiped out.

The new epoch, called the Anthropocene – meaning new man – would be the first period of geological time shaped by the action of a single species.

Although the term has been in informal use among scientists for more than a decade, it is now under consideration as an official term. Continue lendo

Are we now living in the Anthropocene?

ZALASIEWICZ / GSA Today 18 (2): 4-8, 1 Feb 2008 Continue lendo