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by Jay Fienberg

PlaNetwork conference, Kevin W. Kelley and Hardin Tibbs

posted: Jun 6, 2003 11:06:46 PM

Blogging the plaNetwork conference in San Francisco.

Starting with images of Earth, compiled by Kevin W. Kelley. Kevin is here to show the images.

Kevin has looked through about 35,000 images of the Earth from space, to choose the 90 that appear in the 15 minute slide show. He is now showing 25 out takes, that are nevertheless great images. These are all images taken by astronauts / cosmonauts.

He spent all week converting from his projector slide show to digital—he had to learn photoshop, etc., to put it all together.

Kevin asks: what do these images inspire in you? What does this bring up for you? Is this important? If so, how can we bring this into our lives and into the world? His big concern is that people are loosing touch with nature.

Is the Internet just a tool or can we somehow make it something more? In some ways, the Internet takes us away from the world we very much need (i.e., nature). The very thing we are doing alienates us more and more.

Hardin Tibbs is going to put the images we just saw in a context. He is a futurist, and has been given 15 minutes to talk about the future of the world.

He is talking about the growth in global population. The hope that it levels off at 10 billion. Not that it crashes with some environmental failure (e.g., causing a loss of 2/3 of the population, like during the Black Death).

The use of materials is doubling as the population is growing. The output of C02 into the atmosphere has been doubling every twenty years. Human economy is producing more heavy metal waste than nature. The planet is staying the same size, but the human economy is growing exponentially.

In 1986, humans were consuming the equivalent of 40% of the landmass. No one knows what happens as more and more gets used. Shows diagram of exponential growth in a lilly pond, where the pond is half full on the 29th day, but the pond is full on the 30th day. People don't notice when there is less than 50%, but don't realize that when it hits 50% its next leap in growth is 100%.

By this exponential measure, by 2006, we will hit 80% of landmass use. We don't know if the biosphere is still workable at 80%. But, this will be like being at the beginning of the 30th day.

Diagram of sulphur in atmosphere in Big Moose Lake, Adirondacks. Acid rain, exponential break point. Now showing atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature. Shows sign of non-linearity: temperature could shoot up soon if it follows this pattern.

Discovered World Climate Research study that showed break-down of atmosphere at the polls. Talking about layers of the atmosphere and ozone layer, which intercepts the ultraviolets. Showing example of ice shelf melting: could be loss of ozone in the atmosphere or global warming. The rim of the continent is warming up, but the temperatures at the center are colder than ever. This is the kind of stuff we aren't hearing about that are important signs of unprecedented changes in the environment.

If the land ice on the Antartic Peninsula melts, sea levels could rise rapidly by 5-6 meters. Are we heading towards an environmental singularity? Oceanic Institute is very concerned about this: could make London as cold as Central Siberia.

Whole earth has 8.9 hectares of arable land. With 6 billion people, that would be 1.5 hectares each. Typical OECD (i.e., first world countries) consumption patterns are using about 7 hectares per person.

If we don't become more sustainable, by about 2010 we are going to hit a crisis. Could be sooner. Time has almost run out. Becoming more sustainable would take us to a post physical growth economy. After crisis, we might have to get there too, but we might see a global collapse. (Diagram looks like Hopi prophetic rock diagram, Hardin found out.)

Heading towards fossil endgame: global civil war, military powers capturing oil, environment goes bad, civil society in struggle. Alternative: technological solutions to environmental problems, shift in social values, and new political and economic ethos.

Prosperity not be the winner takes all model. We have to all win, or none of us will.

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