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Climate Tipping Point Ecosystem Collapses May Come Faster Than Thought: Studies

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/11/climate-tipping-point-ecosystem-collapses-may-come-faster-thought-studies


Given how little heed we pay to wanton, albeit localized, ecological destruction today, I think we should be worried. Very worried! That we’re not going to do a thing to act on this knowledge even after it has been certified ten ways to Sunday.

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Fine article, thanks to CD & Shanna Hanbury.

Questions related to tipping point and system collapse relate to mathematical models of what are called “complex systems,” “complex, self-driven systems” and similar. A key condition that these share is that each and every factor within the system tends to influence each and every other factor, so that small actions may or may not have very large results, depending on various other factors, none of which may appear dramatic in isolation. The apparently accidental is not, though it is also not predictable.

So, for example, the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression can be blamed on a drought, on Black Friday in’29, on the new mechanized farming that had laid entire regions of topsoil bare to the winds, to the refusal of government or business to support those who planted the land, or to the killing of the keystone Homo sapiens cultures that had mostly successfully stewarded the land for many centuries. All of these were necessary factors for the particular events that happened; none could have accounted for the entirety alone.

An unexpected and game-changing event within such systems is sometimes called a “black swan event.” We may be experiencing a relatively mild black swan with respect to the recent coronavirus and the various political manipulations around it, or we might find that this is part of a larger cumulative event, with a greater impact that has not yet arrived.

Because these things bear similarities and because we are living through something of the sort firsthand (as of May in 2020), we have a chance of recognizing a few things that often get ignored.

We do not know just how this will turn out, though we may know many useful things about the process (like I do not know what day it will snow in Boston, but I know to bring warm clothing). The system cannot be controlled effectively and predictably by simple, top-down fiat. Whatever will happen will evolve from many factors, so many small actions will be crucial. And predictions will almost certainly have to be amended as things progress.

It seems, then, from all this uncertainty and nominal “chaos” that our circumstance must be unclear, and the extraordinary activity of propaganda and misinformation and disinformation has made it so in some respects. But this nature of the system and the grand scope of its operations are known in its large lines far more than has ever been the case in the past.

A large part of our way forward ought to be obvious. We are going to have to start responding to these problems, in both large and small ways, without receiving permission or financial authorization. Money and power may change orientation in some ways, but the conditions for that have not been fulfilled. It is no accident, for instance, that not one of Ralph Nader’s “super rich” have stepped forward to “save us,” though some do give signs that they too would prefer a different system


since the so called “leaders” of our world failed to listen to the scientists or even try to grasp the meaning of the science–for over 50 years and counting–that they all like war-over consumption and greed is a given–that their grabbing for every last buck to be made on the destruction of our ecosystems is called normal business activity–that the world shovels out our futures to feed their insatiable need for more and more wealth while the world burns and millions are subjected to the ravages of climate collapse-tells me that if we want a future we will have to get these destructive criminals off our backs–it is way past time to stop giving them our support-- time to quit voting for our own destruction-time to vote for ourselves and our futures–time for a THIRD PARTY to take over–that is of course assuming you are interested in saving our sorry butts from the horror our “leaders” have left us with