Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Good News: We Have Today

What if you were told that of the eight people closest to you, you only had enough food to feed one. One would survive, the other seven would not. How do you go about deciding who to feed? Imagine how difficult it would to be decide which of your children you would save. It is an impossible dilemma, and one that Dr. James Lovelock believes will become inevitable by 2100.

Lovelock’s Predictions
  • By 2020 extreme weather will be the norm, resulting in global devastation.
  • By 2040 Europe will have a Saharan climate, while much of the UK will be underwater.
  • By 2100 Europe and Australia’s climates will be 8° Celsius hotter than the present.
  • By 2100 food shortages and mass starvation will wipe out seven eighths of the world’s population, with an estimated 1 billion people surviving.
The Gaia Hypothesis
James Lovelock is an independent environmental scientist, best known as the originator of the Gaia hypothesis. His Gaia hypothesis proposes that all organisms and their surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form the living, self-regulating system known as Gaia. Gaia’s goal is to provide an optimal environment for life, and she (Gaia) regulates herself to achieve this goal. Through the observation of paleoclimate data, Lovelock has concluded that increased greenhouse gas levels have forced Gaia into an unstable state. He determines that humanity has pushed Gaia to regulate herself into a state of much hotter temperatures, making much of earth uninhabitable for humans. Lovelock foresees Gaia arriving at this hotter steady state by 2100, and warns that drastic climate changes will result in massive food shortages, resulting in the deaths of seven eighths of the world’s population. 

Why I Believe Lovelock
Before you dismiss Lovelock’s observations as merely a potential cover for the National Enquirer, consider the following:

He’s One of the Preeminent Scientists of Our Time
  • Fellow of the Royal Society.
  • Formally a leading researcher at NASA, Oxford, Harvard and Yale.
  • Became an independent researcher in 1964, to allow himself more freedom and creativity in his research.
His Past Predictions have Proven Correct
  • He was the first to detect the widespread existence of CFCs in the atmosphere.
  • While working for NASA in the 1960s, he correctly predicted that NASA’s attempts to find life on Mars would be unsuccessful, as his observations had proven Mars’ atmosphere to be uninhabitable.
  • In 1965, Shell Oil asked him what the world would look like in 2000, and he predicted that we would be facing grave environmental problems.
  • His theory of Earth being a living self-regulating system was initially ridiculed. It is now the consensus.
  • The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is slowly accepting his climate change observations.
What I take away from Lovelock’s observations is that our future is uncertain. Then again haven’t we always known this? Hasn’t tomorrow always been a mystery?

Lovelock merely refocuses our attention on life’s uncertainty— it’s brevity. So what do we do in the face of life’s uncertainty?

Embrace it! Enjoy the moment, enjoy today, because as Lovelock demonstrates, and we have always known, the future is uncertain.

Further Watching:
1. James Lovelock interview with George Stroumboulopoulos (If you had told me 10 years ago that he'd go from MuchMusic punk rocker to Canada's Letterman, I would have called you nuts!)

2. James Lovelock presentation of his latest book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia

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