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'Existential Threat to Civilization': Planetary Tipping Points Make Climate Bets Too Dangerous, Scientists Warn

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/11/28/existential-threat-civilization-planetary-tipping-points-make-climate-bets-too


Likely, may, perhaps, possibly. These words do not apply to the crisis we are facing:



Exactly right - a “planetary emergency” (Professor Lenton).

Without a doubt we are behind the eightball - have been for decades.

The authors of this Nature Commentary are heavyweights - Johan Rockstrom is the lead author of “Planetary Boundaries” for example.

Exactly right wings !

I see Europe is planning to dam their last wild rivers: New generation of hydroelectric dams ‘threaten Europe’s rivers’

Stupefying - we are being led by ignorance and evil.


The scientists don’t want to be “alarmists.”

Yet they state that “we are in a state of planetary emergency.”

Is it me, or is that a bit of a disconnect?

Happy Thanksgiving.


And that, Michael, is positively right. They are such because they do not value the miracle-yes, miracle-that is Life.


We destroy them at our peril:


You know I’m reading James Hansen’s book again, “Storms of My Grandchildren”. It’s almost comical how strange the world of politics and big business is to both him and I think a lot of top scientists.

It brings to mind a part of JFK’s speech at American University that I particularly like, and seems appropriate here. I post it in good wishes to America on your Thanksgiving:

"There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university," wrote John Masefield in his tribute to English universities–and his words are equally true today. He did not refer to spires and towers, to campus greens and ivied walls. He admired the splendid beauty of the university, he said, because it was “a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see.” (JFK)


As regards this article - I visit pretty much every day a local University. There is a full size Pteranodon hanging over Main Street there - a common denizen of the Cretaceous seaway back in the Mesozoic.

I am feeling a discomforting affinity to this extinct species these days !


We will bring on our own demise much sooner than later. I think we’re closer to twenty years, sadly.


As I have said before, the 2020’s will be the decade of global panic as Earth’s biosystems will collapse in accelerating fashion. It’s already underway. This great unraveling will happen “much sooner than we thought.” Don’t forget the exponential function! We need to stop thinking on a linear scale.


My wife is a researcher here in Ann Arbor. It’s a nice job in many ways.

It’s also a grind. Yes, the university ideals are inspiring, but the actual mechanics are much less so.
The pay is nothing special either.

Obama’s daughter is getting her degree here. So we’re in for one hell of a graduation speech.


I love Ann Arbor. Spent nine great years in metro-Detroit (Livonia). I miss my Michiganders. Go Blue!


This is only a partial list of tipping points that are now happening and no mention of what could be the most important one which is water vapor increasing throughout the levels of atmosphere;



I went to school in Ann Arbor. I miss The Ark.


I’m a Sparty, wife’s a Wolverine. We rarely speak.

Just kidding. She scolds me every day.

Speaking of Livonia, if you ever visited Cantoro Italian Market, they opened a much bigger store in Northville complete with trattoria – outstanding food, man.

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In a year of seeing some great shows, the best of 2019 was Kevin Morby at The Ark.

Give a listen, let it build:

The places with the most rapidly increasing CO2 emisisons - ther Global North are already well below replacement rate. Record low birthrates were reported in the USA again in the past year. Japan is poised at the brink or an irreversable fertility and population collapse unless they totally change their isolationist-nationalist culture and become a nation of immigrants.

CO2 emissions are a function of capitalist economic activity, and capitalism has nothing to do with population growth - partcularly in an age of fossil-fueled mechanization and automation which can replace labor-power and endless marketing/planned obsolescence/replacement/enlargement-driven expansion of markets. The connection between population and fossil-fuel usage is very tenuous, and the alternatives to fossil fuels apply to small or large populations.


Sounds a bit japanese. Nice.

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  1. I wouldn’t guarantee that human civilizaton will collapse. However, climate change clearly reaches the worldwide level of “Do you feel lucky, punk?” The biggies for me would be rapid intensification of hurricanes 50 years down the road removing every coastal city down to the concrete pads, forests being unable to migrate north very fast and so every tree dies, and the millions of refugees now reporting that their land will no longer grow food. So we might well have a population crash due to starvation, some big ex-forest fires and no houses. Also the Arctic is melting down. Face up to it or else.

  2. Invent and more people will live. Also, invent here and more locals will have good jobs.

  3. Tust innovation but verify. There’s a vast amount of corruption out there and dreadfully few honest United States Senators, so we’ll hold the few to relatively high standards and maybe trust them when they horse-trade things that we want away for other things that we want. We need the same policy for innovation.

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I listened to a radio programme years ago about dams. There wasn’t anything really good about them.


Being a resident of Alaska I can unequivocally corroborate your cogent statement.

When will we ever learn. Oh, when will we ever learn.

The love showed for and the hatred and improprieties spewed at Greta when she was a guest in this country underscores how divided the people are on this issue here at home, when we should all be listening to the scientists, and with all speed ahead attempt to ameliorate the climate crisis that is upon us, our future generations and our entire sacred living planet.