Limits to Growth: Back on the Table?

The April issue of Scientific American is crammed with good articles this month. There are the 8 Wonders of the Solar System and a superior article on how the many deep problems of psychology and psychiatry can now be traced to improper wiring, relative to the norm, of various brain areas. Thus such problems as Obseeive Compulsive Disorder and Depression have unique and different maps circuitry and functioning which can lead to better diagnoses and treatment. But I digress.

The Fundamental attraction of this issue is the cover story – Managing Earth’s Future.

Now I was worried because I have become World Climate Change Weary. All the articles proclaiming “here is what to do” sort of like Earth Day – turn off all the lights at Dundas and Yonge [or your 60 location] for 60 minutes and then turn them blazingly back on for 364 days 23 hours until the next year.

But I persevered and I am glad I did because what Scientific American did in two articles was to set the table brilliantly to real climate change debate and policy making. This is no small feat.

The first article, Boundaries for a Healthy Planet, list 9 key environmental processes and threshold measures which should not be crossed without critically endangering the Earth’s Habitability. As might be expected, Climate Change with associated with Global Warming is one of those key factors – and the threshold has already been crossed.

Now of course this point will be subject to debate – but by an ever diminishing minority of observers. What the article does is make crystal clear what standards are being used to measure Climate Change and 8 otherkey environmental livability factors and challenge Science and/or rival viewpoints to deliver alternative measures and thresholds – and to justify them in open debate. Yes. it resembles Martin Luther’s 95 Theses on why the Catholic Church needed Reformation. Now when I discuss climate change and other issues of environmental sustainability , this is my point of reference. I first ask, do you agree with these measure – and if not, why not and what evidence do you have for something better.

The second article is actually an excerpt from the book Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet. Yes, that is the correct misspelling of Earth – the author has done so to emphasize that within the last 200 years Man has altered the livability of the planet – and has irrevocably changed the rules on how it can be safely lived on. The key and controversial argument is that growth – economic growth which has been the key to development of Western Societies now has much tighter constraints as to what can be safely done without disturbing the whole world’s eco- and socio-adaption systems. Of course, the World has been presented by the US and Western Europe triggered Long Recession of 2007-2010, a dramatic example of those limits to growth. This gets at the heart of the Sustainability Issue which is the ElephantTitus in the room on medium and long term top government debates. How to tell 4% of the World’s population they can no longerĀ  consume 20-25% of the World’s resources.

In sum, Scientific American has produced a Must Read issue– hopefully Planet Earth will be able to preserve itself so thatĀ  the issue’s 8 Wonders of the Solar System will not have Earth Remnants as the 9th mute monument in this quadrant of our Milky Way Galaxy.

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