Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Earth Day 2009
Greenpeace video: 'Inspiring Action'
Ecological Ignorance and Economic Collapse
Chip Ward, Tomdispatch: Our ignorance of the adaptive cycle is just one example of our ecological illiteracy. We are similarly inept at reading all sorts of natural signs. Take, for example, thresholds, those critical points where seemingly minor changes can tip an economy into recession or a climate into a new regime of monster storms and epic droughts.
Thresholds are like the doors between the phases in the adaptive cycle, except that they are often one-way -- once you stumble through them, you can't get back to the other side -- so it is crucially important to understand where they are. Although we recognize that there are such things as 'tipping points' and we recognize, belatedly, that we have already crossed too many of them, we're lousy at seeing, let alone avoiding, thresholds before we reach them.
Understanding exactly where a threshold is located may be difficult, but we can at least look for such boundaries, and deliberately try not to cross them when the unintended consequences of doing so can be dire. There are, after all, usually warnings: the reservoir level is lower every year; the colors in the coral reef are fading away; mercury levels in the lake increase...
Once you have driven off a cliff, it does you little good to realize that you are falling.