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January 16, 2014
Questions We Should Be Asking

Polar vortex separation, January 2014
Polar vortex separation, January 2014
I believe the earth will survive us. It has survived far worse. Its 3.5-billion-year life history is a gauntlet of apocalypses. In every ancient crater and dinosaur fossil bed, you see a story of global endings.

Whether we survive ourselves is more the question.

And what of most other living things? Will they survive us?

I'm not willing - or even able - to wait the 6 to 10 million years it would take to return to current levels of biodiversity. That's how long global mass extinctions have taken to recover in the past. Key indicators point to us being in such an extinction right now. So, you have to ask, what comes next?

The most likely scenario, or at least the most hoped for, is that the planet remains generally supportive, and climates are stable enough we get to keep our pretty cities and bucolic countryside.

How long, though, can that hold?

How long will this planet take the sharp stick in the eye of human landscape change, and the overturning of atmospheric and marine balances? There can be no doubt that we as a species deliver a global punch. With mountains mined and rivers dammed, weight balances in the earth's crust have changed, detectibly altering the speed and direction of tectonic movement. That is to say nothing of our industrial tinkering with air and water changing not only temperatures and storms, but what we breathe and drink.

Earth's history shows that climatic swings can come fast and hard, certainly hard enough to put a stop to the likes of us. Knowing this, how much can we afford to ignore at full steam ahead?

How long do we wait until we wished we had done something different?



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