by George Garland, UNA-SNY President
At the Social Good Summit, a day after the climate march in Manhttan, the Greenpeace Executive Director noted the planet will be fine without people—oceans won’t acidify, forests will flourish, groundwater will recharge—it’s the people who are at risk.
The vast majority of the global community supports the Paris Accord. Bill Mc Gibben, 350.org, cited agreement that a 1.5 degrees centigrade increase would keep the global community safe. Yet agreed actions lead to a 3 degrees centigrade increase. The Clean Power Plan, a key US action, now not supported by US leadership.
Forecasts from complicated mathematical models aside, the Great Acceleration shows why global action is needed. Major increases in both environmental and socio-economic indicators from 1950 to present bring us out of the Holocene, the last 10,000 years with temperature variations limited to about one degree centigrade. This favorable climate for human development now gives way to the to the Anthropocene. Now human activity can take us into uncharted territory including the ability of acidifying oceans to supply fish, deforestation changing rainfall patterns, and water scarcity.
The Great Acceleration continues in the Age of Sustainability. The Earth Institute’s Jeff Sachs points out that global product will triple by 2050 while carbon load must be cut in half—change by a factor if 6 in carbon intensity to keep us safe. We will add many more mega-cities and global increases in purchasing power will put pressure on supplies of food, energy, and water.
Our global challenge is well summarized in Doughnut Economics. Raworth combines the Planetary Boundaries of Johan Rockstrom’s Stockholm Resilience Institutes Planetary Boundaries with the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals to demonstrate a safe space for humanity.
Moon Shot Mentality Vandana Shiva argues for a massive effort to restore the functionality of soils versus geo-engineering schemes such as filling the atmosphere with pieces of aluminum. Partnership with the microbial universe is indeed the way forward with energy from biomass, food and energy savings from green roofs, vertical farms which need much less water, and composting of animal manures to restore the carbon capture and ground water recharge capabilities of soils as the goals of a sensible latter day Moon Shot.