I think that the complexity of nonlinear systems gives us just the
opposite of an excuse to procrastinate. Some kinds of
nonlinearities mean that things may get a lot worse a lot faster.
In particular, feedback loops mean exponential growth. That starts
off slow and then picks up speed very rapidly. Another kind of
nonlinearity is phase change, also known as threshold change or
tipping point -- i.e., when some threshold is crossed and suddenly
the rules change and it no longer makes any sense at all to
extrapolate from past history. The methane bomb could go off. The
ecosystem could collapse.
And the article only mentions two scenarios, "business as usual"
and "drastic curtailment," both of which lead to near-term
extinction. I think that's insufficiently imaginative, and a third
scenario needs to be considered: "revolutionary transformation."
That would not only involve drastic curtailment, but also the
planting of trillions of trees, and/or the building of giant
machines that suck carbon out of the air. We don't know yet what
we might discover in the little time that remains to us. We won't
know what is possible unless we try. But first we need to spread a
change of attitude. "Drastic curtailment" is merely one of the
extremes within the present socioeconomic system; we need to move
to a different socioeconomic system altogether.
On 6/22/14, 9:35 PM, Doug Kalmer wrote:
We are in a crisis in the evolution of human society.
It’s unique to both human and geologic history. It has
never happened before and it can’t possibly happen again.
Albert Bates, author of The Post Petroleum Survival Guide
and Cookbook, brings you along on his personal journey.
" Studies such as these help us gaze into the uncertain
future and ask if that is what we want for our children.
Most of us don’t. A few of us actually try to do something
to change it. For the rest, the lag time is comforting.
The complexity of non-linear feedback systems gives us an
excuse to procrastinate."
Both scenarios — business as usual and drastic curtailment —
produce a temperature and climate regime that would likely
be lethal for modern civilization, if not the human race.
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