Table of Contents
- FOOD: Arable Land, Topsoil, Water, Seeds, Sustainable Farming.
- The first task in the management of Spaceship Earth is providing a predictable and sustainable food supply for the human population. In the very simplest terms, the primary variables in the food equation are the number people to feed, the amount of arable land, the health of the topsoil, the availability of clean water, and the vitality of the seeds. Read articles.
- ENERGY: Peak Oil, Alternative Energy Sources, Ethanol, the Politics of Petroleum.
- We are essentially halfway through Earth's stores of petroleum. The age of cheap oil is drawing to a close. Life beyond oil will be daunting, but one thing is certain, learning conservation will be easier than finding an economic and sustainable replacement for fossil fuel. Read articles.
- CLIMATE: Global Warming, the Oceans, the Forests, Ice Masses.
- Climate Change is now recognized as the most serious problem of our time. Disruption of the ocean currents, lost ice mass, thawing permafrost, heedless burning of fossil fuels, all contribute to a network of positive feedback loops hurrying the process of global warming. What lies ahead is difficult to know, but one thing is certain–the window for confronting this situation is rapidly closing. Read articles.
- ECONOMICS: Sustainability, the Banking System, Transparency, War.
- We live in the age of money. Money is everything, security, empowerment, comfort, and hope. Unfortunately, our financial system, our method of generating money, is based on an increasing appetite for a finite set of natural resources. Banking practices, extraction industry subsidies, trade conditions, deregulated financial markets, all are geared to capitalist expansion and a culture of excess, the very antithesis of mindful resource management. It's time to reevaluate the mechanisms of capitalism and the dynamics of the global economy through the lens of sustainability. Read articles.
- COMMUNITY: Biodiversity, Population Management, Relocalization, Consciousness, Distribution of Wealth.
- We have detailed a vast knowledge of our planet, its biology, its chemistry, its physics. We have studied the climate and measured the changing temperatures of the oceans and the atmosphere. We have traveled to other planets. There are critical facts that we have learned from this accumulated knowledge. We know burning fossil fuels is a dead end. We know we can't contiue to pollute the water and the air. We know war is nothing but death and degradation. But none of this helps us; our knowledge is merely print upon a page, pixels on a screen, if we don't pay heed and learn to live together. Engineering sustainability is the task at hand, but getting along, sharing living spaces, conjoining with all living things, realizing community, that is the first step. Managing natural resources is an easy chore compared to finding the magic glue to keep us together. Read articles.
WHEN WE LOOK BACK ON THE LAST HALF CENTURY, one thing is patently clear. Despite increasing evidence and alarm for global warming, despite growing concern for peaking oil production, we have burned more petroleum each ensuing day with no regard for the environmental or economic costs. Another ten years of this would be homicidal.
|Year||USA: million barrels daily||World: million barrels daily||USA Percentage of total||World CO2 Emissions: billion tons annually|
Forty years or thereabouts. Even if two trillion barrels of petroluem remain, it's still not enough to get us through this century!
And what about the long-term effect of the resultant carbon emissions? Below is the EPA's 100-Year Global Warming Projection. The upper part of the red portion represents temperature increases if we continue to burn oil at our current rate; the lowest part of the red portion represents temperature increases if we had stopped using fossil fuels in 2010. Notice that the temperture continues to increase on this lowest path even though there is no further use of fossil fuel. There is a significant lag-time to climate change. Even after we've stopped burning fossil fuels entirely, the warming trend will continue another fifty to one hundred years.
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