Our effect on the planet is so vast, we will show up in future fossil records as a new geological era, the Anthropocene.
- Only 23% of the Earth’s land surface is still wilderness.
- The rest is either city or farm.
- 10% was lost in the last 10yrs.
When thinking about change, it is often useful to uncover the possible driving forces of change. What are the driving forces of change in nature?
- Climate change
- Animal domestication, fishing and poaching
- Ocean Acidification
- Carbon Sinks
- Urbanization and migration
- Limits on arable land being approached (at 80%)
- Topsoil erosion
- Phosphorus runnoff, possible Peak Phosphorus.
- What will the capital of the arctic be?
- Will world population increase to 10bn or decrease?
- History of farming
- Farming started soon after the glaciers receded.
- Farming advances are closely correlated with population increase.
Localised climate change is the favoured explanation for the origins of agriculture in the Levant. When major climate change took place after the last ice age (c. 11,000 BC), much of the earth became subject to long dry seasons. These conditions favoured annual plants which die off in the long dry season, leaving a dormant seed or tuber. An abundance of readily storable wild grains and pulses enabled hunter-gatherers in some areas to form the first settled villages at this time.
Animal Domestication, Fishing and Poaching
China’s demand for ivory is fueling a rush to dig mammoths out of Siberian permafrost.
Trade restrictions don't apply to mammoth ivory, giving smugglers a way to launder elephant ivory, passing it off as mammoth #IceAge— The Ice Age (@Jamie_Woodward_) September 14, 2016
- Coral Bleaching
- Coral farming
- GMO American Chestnut
Antibiotics have augmented our immune system, saving millions of lives. Due to evolutionary selection, they also engineer the microbiome around us. We’ve unwittingly escalated hostilities in a microbial arms race. We need to find new ways to outwhit (and work with) our tiny adversaries.
- Great Plate Count Anomaly: our view of the microbial world is a narrow sliver. Less than 1% of microbes are cultivatable using traditional means. This makes most microbes hard to study.
- iChip is a new method of culturing bacteria within their natural medium (soil).
- Harvesting the Biosphere, Smil. The food chain always traces back to plants. Harvesting the Biosphere methodically estimates the limits of the biosphere’s carrying capacity, and how close we are to them.
- Energy Transitions, Smil. Energy: exhaustive estimates for how quickly we can transition to renewables and strategies for doing so.
- Prime Movers of Globalization, Smil. Globalization is powered by Diesel engines.
- Whole Earth Discipline, Brand. A case for cities, Geoengineering, GMO and nuclear energy from the original neon hippie.
- Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality, Pope Francis. A notable cultural moment. An entire religion gives a science-forward defense for ecology in the anthropocene.
- A Case for Climate Engineering, Keith. Easy read. A reasoned argument for Geoengineering.
- Worldchanging: A User’s Guide to the 21st Century, Steffen. An attempt at a Whole Earth Catalog for today. Access to tools.
- Cryopolitics: sovereignty in the arctic.
Some interesting avenues to explore:
- What was your childhood relationship to nature?
- The opposite of nature is impossible. (Buckminster Fuller)
- That which is creative must create itself. (Keats)
Ecosystems settle into dynamic equilibrium, fueled by evolutionary pressure. Evolution is a property of any system that has:
- Selective Pressure
How can we design with evolutionary pressure?
Borrowing from from TFTF, what would happen to Nature in these future arcs?
- Collapse: a kind of future in which life as we know it is falling apart.
- Grow: a kind of future in which everything keeps climbing: population, production, consumption…
- Discipline: a kind of future in where things are carefully managed by concerted coordination.
- Transform: a kind of future in which a profound historical transition has occurred (spiritual, technological, …).
How will these changes affect fundamental needs?