The Lungs of the Earth

The recent warning by Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact: “We are simply talking about the very life support system of this planet” is consistent with the lessons arising from the history of the Earth’s atmosphere/ocean system. A rise of CO2-e (CO2-equivalent, including the effect of methane) above 500 ppm and of mean global temperature toward and above 4 degrees C, projected by the IPCC, ((IPCC 2007 AR4)) Copenhagen, ((Copenhagen Synthesis Report)) and Oxford scientific reports, ((Oxford 28-30 October, 2009 meeting)), as well as reports by the world’s leading climate science bodies (NASA/GISS, Hadley-Met, Potsdam Climate Impact Institute, NSIDC, CSIRO, BOM), would transcend the conditions which allowed the development of agriculture in the early Neolithic, tracking toward climates which dominated the mid-Pliocene (3 Ma) (1 Ma = 1 million years) and further toward greenhouse Earth conditions analogous to those of the Cretaceous (145–65 Ma) and early Cenozoic (pre-34 Ma).

Lost all too often in the climate debate is an appreciation of the delicate balance between the physical and chemical state of the atmosphere-ocean-land system and the evolving biosphere, which controls the emergence, survival and demise of species, including humans.

By contrast to Venus, with its thick blanket of CO2 and sulphur dioxide greenhouse atmosphere, exerting extreme pressure (90 bars) at the surface, or Mars with its thin (0.01 bar) CO2 atmosphere, the presence in the Earth’s atmosphere of trace concentrations of greenhouse gases (CO2, methane, nitric oxides, ozone) modulates surface temperatures in the range of -89 and +57.7 degrees Celsius, allowing the presence of liquid water and thereby of life.

Forming a thin breathable veneer only slightly more than one thousand the diameter of Earth, and evolving both gradually as well as through major perturbations with time, the Earth’s atmosphere acts as the lungs of the biosphere, allowing an exchange of carbon gases and oxygen with plants and animals, which in turn affect the atmosphere, for example through release of methane and photosynthetic oxygen.

An excess of carbon dioxide in the lungs triggers a need to breath. When the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere rises above a critical threshold, the climate moves to a different state. Any significant increase in the level of carbon gases triggers powerful feedbacks. These include ice melt/warm water interaction, decline of ice reflection (albedo) effect and increase in infrared absorption by exposed water. Further release of CO2 from the oceans and from drying and burning vegetation shifts global climate zones toward the poles, warms the oceans and induces ocean acidification.

The essential physics of the infrared absorption/emission resonance of greenhouse molecules has long been established by observations in nature and laboratory studies, as portrayed in the relations between atmospheric CO2 and mean global temperature projections in Figure 1.

The living biosphere, allowing survival of large mammals and of humans on the continents, has developed when CO2 levels fell below about 500 ppm some 34 million years ago (late Eocene). At that stage, and again about 15 million years ago (mid-Miocene), development of the Antarctic ice sheet led to a fundamental change in the global climate regime.

About 2.8 million years ago (mid-Pliocene) the Greenland ice sheet and the Arctic Sea ice began to form, with further decline in global temperatures expressed through glacial-interglacial cycles regulated by orbital forcing (Milankovic cycles), with atmospheric CO2 levels oscillating between 180 and 280 ppm CO2. ((Hansen et al. 2008. “Target CO2: Where Should humanity aim?“; Glikson, A.Y., 2008. “Milestones in the evolution of the atmosphere with reference to climate change.” Aust. J. Earth Sci. 55:2.)) These conditions allowed the emergence of humans in Africa and later all over the world. ((deMenocal, P.B. “African climate change and faunal evolution during the Pliocene-Pleistocene.” Earth and Plant. Sci. Lett, Frontiers, 6976, 1-22, 2004.))

Humans already existed 3 million years-ago, however these were small clans which, in response to changing climates migrated to more hospitable parts of Africa and subsequently Asia. ((deMenocal, P.B. “African climate change and faunal evolution during the Pliocene-Pleistocene.” Earth and Plant. Sci. Lett, Frontiers, 6976, 1-22, 2004.)) About 124 thousand years ago, during the Emian interglacial, temperatures rose by about 1 degree C and sea levels by 6-8 meters.

The development of agriculture and thereby human civilization had to wait until climate stabilized about 8000 years ago, when large scale irrigation along the great river valleys (the Nile, Euphrates, Hindus and Yellow River) became possible.

Since the industrial revolution humans dug, pumped and burnt more than 320 billion tons of carbon which accumulated as the result of biological activity during 400 million years. 320 billion tons of carbon is more than 50% the carbon concentration of the original atmosphere (540 billion tons). As a consequence the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen by about 40%, from 280 to 388 ppm.

The world is now witnessing a dangerous shift in the state of the atmosphere-ocean system, an extremely rapid change from the interglacial condition of the Holocene, which began about 11,700 years-ago, to conditions analogous to those of the mid-Pliocene when mean global temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees C higher, and sea levels about 25+/-12 meters higher, than the early 20th century.

In terms of the combined effects of CO2, methane and nitric oxide, the rise of greenhouse gases has reached about 460 ppm CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) (Figure 1), only slightly below the 500 ppm level which correlates with the maximum stability of the Antarctic ice sheet.

Figure 1. A plot of global mean temperature (increase above pre-industrial time in degrees C) vs atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration (in CO2-eqivalent, a value which includes the effect of methane). The assumed climate is 3+/-1.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2-e. The field I, II, III, etc. correspond to the IPCC’s various emission scenarios. IPCC Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, figure 5.1

Figure 1. A plot of global mean temperature (increase above pre-industrial time in degrees C) vs atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration (in CO2-eqivalent, a value which includes the effect of methane). The assumed climate is 3+/-1.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2-e. The field I, II, III, etc. correspond to the IPCC’s various emission scenarios. IPCC Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, figure 5.1

The current rate at which CO2 is rising, 2 ppm per year, is unprecedented in the recent history of the Earth, with the exception of the onset of greenhouse atmospheric conditions following major volcanic episodes and asteroid and comet impacts, which led to the large mass extinctions in the history of the Earth (end-Ordovician, end-Devonian, end-Permian and Permian-Triassic boundary, end-Triassic, end-Jurassic, end-Cretaceous) (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Variations in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and oxygen concentrations correlated with ice ages (blue histograms, extending according to geographic latitude). Note the sharp decline in atmospheric CO2 during ice ages. After Royer et al. 2004 and Berner et al. 2007.

Figure 2. Variations in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and oxygen concentrations correlated with ice ages (blue histograms, extending according to geographic latitude). Note the sharp decline in atmospheric CO2 during ice ages. After Royer et al. 2004 and Berner et al. 2007.

((Royer et al., 2004. “CO2 as a primary driver of Phanerozoic climate.” GSA Today, 14: 3, doi: 10.1130/1052-5173)) , ((Berner et al., 2007. “Oxygen and evolution.” Science, 316, 557 – 558. ))

Further rise of CO2-e above 500 ppm and mean global temperatures above 4 degrees C can only lead toward greenhouse Earth conditions such as existed during the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic (Figure 2).

At 4 degrees C advanced to total melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets leads to sea levels tens of meters higher than at present.

Since the 18th century mean global temperature has risen by about 0.8 degrees C. Another 0.5 degrees C is masked by industrial-emitted aerosols (SO2), and further rise ensues from current melting of the ice sheets and sea ice, with loss of reflection (albedo) of ice and gain in infrared absorption by open water, leading to feedback effects.

The polar regions, actinv as the “thermostats” of the Earth, are the source of the cold air current vortices and the cold ocean currents, such as the Humboldt and California current, which keep the Earth’s overall temperature balance, much as the blood stream regulates the body’s temperature and the supply of oxygen.

Unfortunately climate change is not an abstract notion, with consequences manifest around the globe in terms of (1) Polar ice melt; (2) Sea level rise; (3) Migration of climate zones toward the poles; (4) Desertification of temperate climate zones; (5) Intensification of hurricanes and floods, related to increase in the level of atmospheric energy; (6) acidification of the oceans; (7) Destruction of coral reefs [2-4].

Which is why the European Union and in recent international conferences defined a rise by 2.0 degrees C as the maximum permissible level. A dominant scientific view has emerged that atmospheric CO2 levels, currently at 388 ppm, need to be urgently reduced to below 350 ppm [5]. This is because, a rise of CO2 concentration above 350 ppm triggers feedback effects, which include:

1. Carbon cycle feedback due to warming, which dries and burns vegetation, with loss of CO2. With further warming, the onset of methane release from polar bogs and sediments is of major concern.

2. Ice/melt water interaction feedbacks: melt water melts more ice, ice loss results in albedo loss, exposed water absorb infrared heat.

Because CO2 is cumulative, with atmospheric residence time on the scale of centuries to millennia, it may not be possible to stabilize or control the climate through small incremental reduction in emission and avoid irreversible tipping points. ((Lenton et al., 2008. “Tipping points in the Earth climate system.”))

Humans can not argue with the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere. Time is running out. What is needed are global emergency measures, including:

1. Urgent deep cuts in carbon emissions by as much as 80%.
2. Parallel Fast track transformation to non-polluting energy utilities – solar, solar-thermal, wind, tide, geothermal, hot rocks.
3. Global reforestation and re-vegetation campaigns, including application of biochar.

Business as usual, with its focus on the annual balance sheet, can hardly continue under conditions of environmental collapse. Governments, focused on the next elections, need to focus on the survival of the next generation.

Good planets are hard to come by.

Dr Andrew Glikson is with the Research School of Earth Science & School of Archaeology & Anthropology at Australian National University in Canberra. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Andrew.

24 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on November 4th, 2009 at 10:05am #

    “We need to reduce generation of CO2 by 80% and quickly”. So, to obtain that i suggest that 6 bn people march on their knees and supplicatorily ask their repective despots; oops, ‘servants’ to stop gradually or quickly manufacture of lawn mowers.

    Don’t u scare them by supplicating for more than that at least for a year. They get very skittish losing other toys; especially, the big ones like warships, aircraft, tanks. tnx

  2. kalidas said on November 4th, 2009 at 12:00pm #

    Don’t forget their meat, their flesh and blood.

  3. Don Hawkins said on November 4th, 2009 at 12:11pm #

    Andrew that was very good and we here in the States probably will never see that information on the nightly news. Strange day’s ahead. Good planets are hard to come by. Here in the States do the so called leaders know what Andrew just wrote? Oh yes they sure do so why is it that we see just more illusion crazy talk? They must have a big plan. Wait don’t tell me the easy way out like warships, aircraft, tanks and if needed we have those other things with the heat of the Sun. Much to hard to use the Sun itself requires a mind and a soul. Mr. President awaiting your orders sir. Andrew did you happen to see the noise generator in Pittsburgh for the G-20 more of those on the way. I mean the climate bill here in the States will be so watered down and nothing more than foolishness that the rest of the World will do what. Have dinner? Maybe will not pass with tea party’s and millions of dollars to help with thought control. Golly gee it’s not thought control it’s Democracy at work in the land of the free.

  4. Don Hawkins said on November 4th, 2009 at 1:21pm #

    The following is a timeline of the discovery of global warming.

    300 BC – Theophrastus, a student of Greek philosopher Aristotle, documents that human activity can affect climate. He observes that drainage of marshes cools an area around Thessaly and that clearing of forests near Philippi warms the climate.

    17th century – Flemish scientist Jan Baptista van Helmont discovers that gases different from normal air — carbon dioxide — are given off by burning charcoal.

    17th century – The Industrial Revolution starts, bringing rising use of fossil fuels

    1824 – Frenchman Joseph Fourier suggests that something in the atmosphere is keeping the world warmer than it would otherwise be — a hint at the greenhouse gas effect.

    1837 – Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz presents evidence of big past changes in Alpine glaciers — pointing to ancient Ice Ages and showing that the climate has not always been stable.

    1860s – Irish scientist John Tyndall shows that molecules of gases such as water vapour and carbon dioxide trap heat. He wrote that changes “could have produced all the mutations of climate which the researches of geologists reveal”.

    1896 – Sweden’s Svante Arrhenius becomes the first to quantify carbon dioxide’s role in keeping the planet warm. He later concluded that burning of coal could cause a “noticeable increase” in carbon levels over centuries.

    1957-58 – U.S. scientist Charles Keeling sets up stations to measure carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere at the South Pole and at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The measurements have shown a steady rise.

    1965 – U.S. President Lyndon Johnson tells Congress: “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through…a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.”

    1988 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher tells the United Nations: “The problem of global climate change is one that affects us all and action will only be effective if it is taken at the international level. It is no good squabbling over who is responsible or who should pay.”

    1988 – The United Nations sets up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assess the scientific evidence.

    1992 – World leaders agree the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets a non-binding goal of stabilising greenhouse gas emissions by 2000 at 1990 levels — a target not met overall. 1995 – The IPCC concludes for a first time that humans are causing global warming, saying: “the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate”.

    1997 – The Kyoto Protocol is agreed in Japan; developed nations agree to cut their greenhouse gas emissions on average by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. The United States stays out of the deal. 2001 (January) – The IPCC concludes that it is “likely” — or 66 percent probable — that human activities rather than natural variations are the main cause of recent warming.

    2001 (June) – President George W. Bush notes the U.S. National Academy of Sciences says greenhouse gases are rising “in large part due to human activity”. He adds: “Yet, the Academy’s report tells us that we do not know how much effect natural fluctuations in climate may have had on warming. We do not know how much our climate could, or will change in the future.”

    2007 – The IPCC says that it is “very likely” — at least 90 percent certain — that humans are to blame for most of the observed warming trend of the past 50 years. It also said that warming of the planet was “unequivocal”.

    2009 – Group of Eight leaders agree industrialised nations should cut emissions on average by 80 percent by 2050 and limit warming to a maximum of 2 Celsius above pre-industrial times. Reu

    On the present path we are on in 2029 or there about’s give or take a few years we will probably hear.

    A very loud high pitched noise coming from this square thing on top of a military truck and Fox new’s asking for calm. Can’t happen well yesterday at the mark up for the climate bill the talk was we don’t get it this is the biggest problem the human race has ever faced and the Republicans didn’t even show up. That would be the people who represent not the people but special interests who control bank’s, policy, business, media our thoughts. How about the other side well cap and trade does little to nothing to slow this problem. Can’t happen so far it sure is.

  5. Andrew said on November 4th, 2009 at 2:15pm #

    I appreciate your comments Don.

  6. deceschi said on November 4th, 2009 at 3:53pm #

    That’s why we should put our all individual efforts in freeing ourself from the energetic dependence from oil. There are alternative energy forms that can replace oil, first of all electricity, produced by water, wind and sun. This would not only be good for the environment and the future of mankind, but also good to gain economic and political indipendence from the oil producing countries, mostly dictatorships and repressive regimes that trample on human rights and cause trouble in world because of their excessive and misplaced power. The West has become a whore of sordid economic interests. So don’t expect short-term the hoped green revolution from politics: much better to turn green yourself in spirit and body.

  7. obstruksion said on November 4th, 2009 at 8:55pm #

    Antarctic ice sheets are increasing, Arctic ice is recovering and the earth is cooling/flat since 1998. how much poverty are people willing to endure to “save the planet” from a warming that doesn’t really seem to be matching the experts predictions.

    Keep an eye on that site… Anthony calls it like it is…

  8. lichen said on November 4th, 2009 at 9:26pm #

    Yeah, obstruksion, the the ice is increasing the and earth is cooling–it’s called winter. It happens ever year, however, the point is that each year there is less and less ice and the overall global temperatures are higher and higher. Manmade global warming is real, and it is right here; and, actually, industrialization fuels much of global poverty, not sustainability or green lifestyles.

  9. Don Hawkins said on November 5th, 2009 at 3:44am #

    Obstruksion what you just wrote is called fiction is fact or thought control direct from the play book of the very people who didn’t show up for the climate bill who I like to call the darkside. The Arctic it is already to late to stop the melt and the temperatures now 7 to 9 degrees will double in just a few years. Maybe you think that other countries will have problems and not us here in the States well we like them are in deep do do and at least the people in developing countries already know how to survive on very little as we here in the States do what? Get ready for a little change over that I must admit will be anything but easy. For the most part on DV one and one is two not 10 and thought control you will have a very hard time with. The Earth is cooling yes if you listen to money/debt and power and illusion of knowledge but if you like the real thing the truth stick around and give it a try. Remember at first if you do decide to take the red pill it will not be easy at first and why?

    Morpheus: The pill you took is part of a trace program. It’s designed to disrupt your input/output carrier signal so we can pinpoint your location.
    Neo: What does that mean?
    Cypher: It means fasten your seat belt Dorothy, ’cause Kansas is going bye-bye.

    I’m going to show people what you don’t want them to see and what might that be? That we have already destroyed a good part of the home planet/Earth and are now going about finishing off the job. “And you all just won a new car”, and remember super size those fries take your antidepressants call call now listen to your so called leaders and watch your parking meters we don’t need to change everything is just fine climate change is a hoax the ice caps melting is normal and those droughts put them out of your mind go shopping.

    Stick around and remember one and one is two and a prison for the mind is only an illusion.

  10. Don Hawkins said on November 5th, 2009 at 4:58am #

    Sent this e-mail to CNBC this morning.


    Did you happen to read this?

    WASHINGTON (Nov. 3) — Are America’s youth too fat, dumb or dishonest to defend the nation against its enemies?

    The latest Army statistics show a stunning 75 percent of military-age youth are ineligible to join the military because they are overweight, can’t pass entrance exams, have dropped out of high school or had run-ins with the law.

    So many young people between the prime recruiting ages of 17 and 24 cannot meet minimum standards that a group of retired military leaders is calling for more investment in early childhood education to combat the insidious effects of junk food and inadequate education. Sphere

    I’ll bet many people read that and thought to themselves oh goodie it’s working and now we can sell them anything. It’s ok we have nuclear weapons and I am going to be rich rich I tell you. Yes for those of us who went on to higher learning we will control everything it’s going to be great.

    Not exactly and people don’t think like that. Oh they don’t well what about commercials on TV that almost say it’s ok to be stupid and if you buy my product other people will think your stupid and you can all be stupid together. How does it seem to working so far? Now of course the people who make these commercials are not over weight and very smart as they went on to higher learning and very honest in all they do. Well that’s just the way it work’s, work’s is probably the wrong word and now with the biggest problem the human race as ever faced do we see honest, higher learning from our so called leaders, roll models a few about 1%. At least one good thing these kid’s will not be demonstrating to defend themselves and the darkside could be right on that as we all all go down the drain in not such slow motion it worked sad isn’t it and shocking is it time for lunch yet and the soup do the day is? What is my purpose call call now. Sad isn’t it. That’s just the way the way the World work’s it’s the best we can do seems so.

  11. Lucien Locke said on November 5th, 2009 at 5:35am #

    Hard science, sustainable facts, long term trends indicating progressive influence of the by- products of earth inhabitants. For those of us who know the consequences the message is very clear, an Earth very much different then the one we live on now. For those that do not know the facts or care to believe them …the everyday changes are too little to wake them up. There in lies the problem. Of those exposed to the world of science and facts…there is argument. For those unable or unwilling to access meaningful daily,weekly,monthly news bulletin, notable climate observations are lost.

    Then there are those who for religious reasons defy the basic sciences such as geology, archeology, paleontology, a corner stone for much of the science of climatology.

    There are influences larger then they should be including unschooled or felonious politicians, fringe elements of the communications profession with agendas know only to those closely aligned with them, dissemination of false beliefs and twisted facts make up an opposing view of the world.

    All of those above will slow and may even stop what little we can do to change the threat to our world. And it is OUR world. The changes are to isolated, to far away from our own tiny place we live in, much more remote then the every day challenges of life and liberty. Even the “tipping points” do not occur in our living rooms or bedrooms.

    So the science of climatology is important …but much more the need to convince all in OUR world of the necessity of recognizing the little things for their importance and influence on the big thing…climate change.

  12. Don Hawkins said on November 5th, 2009 at 6:18am #

    There are influences larger then they should be including unschooled or felonious politicians, fringe elements of the communications profession with agendas know only to those closely aligned with them, dissemination of false beliefs and twisted facts make up an opposing view of the world. Well said

  13. Wingnut said on November 5th, 2009 at 7:07am #

    And lets not forget about enjoyments addictions… ie. sweets, meats, motorsports, relaxing, partying, hanging-around, recliners, TV, games, sex, tobacco, booze, mememe, killing things, exploding things, playing Tonka trucks in the mud, playing pranks, being coddled/nurtured/petted/attaboy’d (love? acceptance? inclusion?), more to come.

    None of these things can/should be labeled as GOOD or BAD… they all float around in the 255 shades of gray between black and white labeling like that. All things in moderation. But WHO, pray-tell… gets to have the final say on WHAT is a moderated level? Are we going to rely upon self-policing to enforce such self-policy? Because, if we self-police… its going to mean that we get to say goodbye to tact, and we can go around accusing each other of being fat, stupid, lethargic drunks again, and its okay, cuz brutal pummeling got re-labeled as “tough love”! YAY!!! Verbal abuse is allowed again!!

    (It always WAS allowed outside of workplaces. But workplace “appropriate and professional” dribbled out onto the streets, accidentally, recently. For example, verbal sexual harassment is a capitalism/workplace-only thing. Free speech is allowed “on the streets” and in most other places.)

  14. Don Hawkins said on November 5th, 2009 at 7:49am #

    1. Urgent deep cuts in carbon emissions by as much as 80%.
    2. Parallel Fast track transformation to non-polluting energy utilities – solar, solar-thermal, wind, tide, geothermal, hot rocks.
    3. Global reforestation and re-vegetation campaigns, including application of biochar.

    Business as usual, with its focus on the annual balance sheet, can hardly continue under conditions of environmental collapse. Governments, focused on the next elections, need to focus on the survival of the next generation.

    Good planets are hard to come by.

  15. bozh said on November 5th, 2009 at 8:55am #

    “America’s youth too fat, dumb, or dishonest to defend their country” Probably, probably, dear donald hawkins.
    However don, in dishonesty, they may be much less so than their elders and still less so than obama, clinton, et al.
    Don, how about that infamous “dumbness”? Well, i finished last in my class; so, they are smarter than i had been.
    But that’s how kids behave-feel-think everywhere. Most kids think of their hair, muscles; size of tits, penises, buttocks, cars, sick-coms, etc.

    Kids do lie a lot. But had good teachers: priests, a ‘teach’, pols, reporters, actors, et al.
    As to defense of the country, US has drones, wmd; bushes’, clinton’s, carter’s, kennedy’s children for that. Or do we think that clinton and other prezes wld be that dishonest to keep its offspring outof warfare?
    So, not to worry, the train is indeed running and as long there r tracks to run on, everything is going as planned!
    And bad news is, the earth being a sphere and thus unending, the tracks also may never end.
    So, a good commet will have to do; the only cure!!! tnx

  16. Don Hawkins said on November 5th, 2009 at 10:39am #

    My first thought Bozh was another straw on the camels back. This second there are people in front of the Capital demonstrating to stop health care and most bussed in from the group, gang, org. They don’t even know they are only helping a very few people who I know now are just nut’s. To get the youth to defend themselves against this insanity seems not in the cards they won the system worked and from the looks of it a little to well. Yes a few still try because somehow in this strangeness they found a way and very hard to fight the system and the few who sold there soul to it very hard. I will keep trying as I lost weight and was very dumb and dishonest but somehow found a way.

  17. Kim Peart said on November 5th, 2009 at 12:11pm #

    I do not argue with the facts of climate change, global heating, accelerating extinction of species, loss of biodiversity, human population growth or the detail that our future survival could now be on the line. Looking deeply into the roots of evolution and life’s dynamic for survival, expansion and diversity, I wonder what humans are doing here. The addition of intelligence to the mix of Nature is great and we have come far, but is there a more primal game of life’s expansion, with nowhere to go but out? Of itself, life could not expand into space, but an intelligent species can develop the technology to expand into space. We have done this and in the process changed the planet, but Nature puts up with huge punishments, as with mass extinction, to move on to greater diversity. So is the real game in Nature the expansion of life into space and we are the key to this happening? Would it then be in our interests to awaken to this and make a giant leap in space development to ensure our survival in a dangerous old Universe, in space and on Earth. If we found the tenacity to secure a sustainable presence in space, we would also then be in a confident survival position to work for a sustainable human presence on Earth. With the space vision happening, the Earth vision can also happening as part of a commitment to future survival and diversity. If we cling to the Earthly nest in confronting climate change, we may wake up next to the Grim Reaper. In a Solar System-wide survival plan, we may build solar power stations in space and beam the energy to Earth, providing all Earth’s energy needs indefinitely and allowing fossil fuels to remain fossils. We may also build a sunshade in space at Lagrange 1 to help cool the Earth, which will be needed in the future as our Sun gets brighter, now 25 percent hotter than at the dawn of life 3.5 billion years ago. Achieving space survival now while we can, in the light of human political dynamics and an underlying evolutionary impulse for expansion, may be the only way that we will get ahead of the game with climate change and global heating.
    (See my 2006 article ‘Creating A Solar Civilization’ via Google, now being revised, refined and improved).
    If a sustainable presence in space is essential to ensure our survival, then holding back may prove to be the best road to collective suicide.
    If we lose the chance for space now, we may never get another crack at it and that could prove to be the end-game for our species.
    Kim Peart

  18. lichen said on November 5th, 2009 at 2:05pm #

    Kim Peart, I see you’ve been watching too much star trek. We have no means for space travel or space colonies, and yes, it is justice that we be tied to the earth and 100% responsible for stopping our overpopulation, pollution, mining, deforestation, and chemicalization of this planet.

    Young people are not cannon fodder for the violent exploits of old rich scum, and they are smarter and thinner than most of the baby boomers are right now.

  19. Wingnut said on November 5th, 2009 at 2:26pm #

    Hi Kim. WHO can afford to do that? WHO has a big enough pile of paper motivation certificates to pull that off? And are you going to haul the whole planet off the planet, or only the monetarily fittest survive? And where will you get water? Ever thought about just strapping some rockets onto the planet itself, and take that out flying across the galaxies? Ever been deep in caves? Its not TOO bad there, and its sure cheaper and easier than space stations and intergalactic flyers.

    Do you see the trillions of miracles happening on this planet? Do you see how very perfectly and meticulously it was designed/built? Do you believe that the Earth was happenstance? Do you believe it has a design and designers? A third idea?

    If someone came along and proposed that EACH HUMAN creates an entire universe for themselves and themselves only, when they wake up each morning, could you swallow that? Can you conceive that when many of the psychics and mediums claim that “you create your own reality”, they mean it literally? Could you conceive that you are the only REAL thing in your entire reality, and that all other people, creatures, world, and even your own body… is part of a type of hallucination that a “big you” has created for yourself to do experiencing-within?

    If THAT is true, your “haul everyone into space” (which is a very harsh environment and costs tons of $$$$ to build protection-from and haul supplies-into)… is i’n’i’n’i. (infeasible’n’ implausible’n’impractical) Its probably not any more inini than my idea to get people to stop using economies and stop doing monetary discrimination, though.

    All that theory aside, we already have one of the best spaceships ever designed, maybe the best. Its called a planet. We can’t get together and pilot/operate THIS spaceship in a loving and sharing manner. What makes you think a man-made spaceship will be any different?

    Its a good thought, though. Such a good thought that… another once had it… with a movie called Silent Running… Bruce Dern ended-up forgetting to take a woman along, so he killed-off humanity, eventually. But he fixed the artificial lighting/sun so his marijuana crop would survive forever, minded by some poker-playing robots. It wasn’t just pot, though. There were all sorts of plants aboard. But he was venturing intergalactic, so he was leaving the sun behind. Thus the need for the artificial lighting, which runs on fuel or Duracells, both of which cost a crapload of money and danger to launch into space.

    I take it that your idea doesn’t leave the local solar system, as you mention solar/sun often. So there wouldn’t be a search happening for a new planet. You’d have to say goodbye to the sun to do that kind of traveling, and the heating costs would be… ironically… astronomical. Getting those batteries and jet fuel trucks… to deliver petrol or solid rocket boosters… outside the current solar system… is x-spensive beyond your wildest greenback-printing dreams. Remember, no solar panel/cell power will be happening if you’re heading out beyond the local area.

    I’d say your idea has about a 100000 to 1… labor-to-fruition ratio. In other words, for every 100000 people it would kill in order to MAKE this spaceship of yours, 1 would be saved by it. So only the very very very richest could gather the labor to buy their way into a survival of the fittest slot aboard the spacecraft. Take a look at the pyramid scheme symbol on the back of the USA dollar if/when you get a chance. See the tip of that pyramid, glowing, eye or Horus inside, separated from the worker bees below? Now, of that tiny false deity pyramid on top, just the upper 10% of THOSE power wielders… could afford to go on your spaceship. And, I believe they are all whities, so you’ve lost your bio-diversity (and all horse sense) upon your new space-world, and thus it won’t survive. Speaking of horse, those world-controlling Bilderberg kids at the top of the freemason new world order… are all meat eaters. Better haul some chickens and cows, too. Got pasture? Got servants to shovel poo?

    Rough, rough, rough. Head for the caves. You’d still die there, but at least you’d be away from the rich controllers and amongst the intelligence of the rocks and lichen.

  20. Don Hawkins said on November 5th, 2009 at 3:00pm #

    The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December has long been held up as the “last chance” for humanity to stop dangerous global warming.
    World leaders, including Gordon Brown, have repeatedly called for a legally-binding treaty that would force rich countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

    However in the latest round of negotiations in Barcelona rich countries have failed to agree on targets for cutting carbon, prompting the African nations to walk out in protest at one point.
    Officials are now frantically watering down expectations and talking about another year of talks before a treaty can be finalised.

    The situation also adds pressure on President Barack Obama to attend the Copenhagen talks and prevent the talks collapsing altogether.

    “It is a Catch 22 situation,” he said. “People are waiting for each other to move so it is very difficult to blame any one country.”

    However, questioned on the role of the US he said the American position was “significant” in terms of the delay.

    President Obama has been unable to pass legislation through the Senate that would commit the US to cutting carbon emissions.

    “Copenhagen is one of the most important meetings in human history. It’s the best chance we’ve ever had to agree a deal to slash emissions and face down the threat of warming the planet, but the politicians seem determined to blow it.

    “The US is becoming a dead weight in these talks. Its position is driven by big fossil fuel interests. It is time for Europe to stand up not give up.” Telegraph

    big fossil fuel interests and a few others. Strange day’s ahead

  21. john andrews said on November 6th, 2009 at 1:41am #


    Your list of glolbal emergency measures left out the most important one of all – human population control.

    The Earth’s climiate has never been constant, and never will be. All of today’s ‘experts’, most of whom seem to be connected one way or another to self-interested energy corporations, appear to be trying to turn the planet into some sort of artificial laboratory environment in which they may tightly control the Earth’s climate – and give the Empire ultimate control. But it is a twenty first century variation of King Canute trying to hold back the tide.

    Maintaining the Earth’s climate in a condition different to that determined by nature without addressing the single most important problem (its exploding human population) is not only ridiculous (but very profitable of course), it continues to ignore the human vandalism that is destrtoying the planet’s fragile and beautiful eco-systems.

    Human population control is THE most important issue in this debate for anyone serious about the long term welfare of our planet. Population control should never be imposed by governments (none of that eugenics nonsense), but should be taught, so that humans become self-regulating in exactly the same way as humans are learning to become non-smokers. It’s a very simple and humane lesson: women should not usually have any more than two children. That’s it. If every woman on the planet learnt that lesson, and applied it, human population would start to decline within a couple of generations (many women don’t want children at all, or are content with one; or they can’t have them, or sadly lose their children before they become adults).

    A small human population will be far better able to cope with Earth’s natural climate swings than the fat and bloated population we have created, and which we are making even fatter and more bloated; and the planet’s eco-systems will also have a fighting chance of survival long into the future.

  22. Don Hawkins said on November 6th, 2009 at 7:21am #

    As Mark Twain said, “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

    Well written news hounds.

  23. bozh said on November 6th, 2009 at 9:14am #

    Re concern for world pop, i note that we cld first reduce number of pets, cows, sheep, chickens. Thereafter go for three healthy-freshly-cooked-at home meals.
    And then reduce number of tanks, nukes, guns, cars, electric this and that, etc.
    Even changing the US constitution and its satanic verses comes ahead of ‘need’ of reducing world pop.
    For if one does not amend-emend US constitution and thus its vastly an antihuman governance {system of rule=structure} and its gov’ts, judiciary, media, education, etc., there may not be peace on earth for decades, centuries, or even millennia.
    Thus, asking neoindians to reduce their pop before all that is done cannot be perceived as anything but abetting crimes against nature } of which people are just a part} by rich countries! tnx

  24. Don Hawkins said on November 6th, 2009 at 3:41pm #

    The last formal negotiation before the global summit on climate change in Copenhagen concluded in acrimony today , with developing countries threatening to walk out of the December conference unless rich countries commit themselves to greater cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

    While the countries officially remain optimistic that a strong global warming treaty can be struck, they are privately braced for a weak outcome that heads of state will sign, but the public and scientists will condemn as much too little to prevent catastrophic global warming.

    In addition, the US and Europe put themselves on a collision course with the world’s poorest countries, by repeating demands that the existing Kyoto treaty be scrapped in favour of a single new international treaty.

    The UN announced that more than 40 heads of state have now agreed to go to Copenhagen, including Gordon Brown and others from Europe, Africa and South America. It is a recognition that the only way a legally binding deal will be concluded is with the highest-level political involvement.

    Ironically, the involvement of the heads of state will give negotiators much less time to bridge what appears to be near-insurmountable gaps between positions, thereby forcing talks to continue well into 2010. Earlier this week, the EU and UK accepted an enforceable deal would take at least six months to a year to finalise.

    “Little progress was made [this week] on the key issues of emission targets and finance that would allow developing countries to limit their emissions and adapt to climate change,” said Yvo de Boer, the UN director of the talks. “Without these two pieces of the puzzle in place we will not have a deal.”

    The 130 developing countries represented by the G77 group said todaythey would walk out of Copenhagen if rich countries did not offer far deeper emission cuts and more money.

    “If there are no ambitious targets and timetables in the first few days, then there will definitely be a reaction,” said Lumumba Di-Aping, chair of the G77.

    Jonathan Pershing, the US chief negotiator, denied the US was holding up the talks by not naming a figure for its cuts. He refused to say whether the US would go to Copenhagen with a figure. “If we were to do a 17% reduction or a 20% cut, I’m not sure it would make a difference to the talks,” he said.

    The UN, EU and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said the US was endangering years of negotiations and hopes of tackling global warming, if it did not have firm targets.

    “It is important for a deal to have the biggest emitter there with a concrete figure, which should be legally binding,” said Anders Torrson, the Swedish chief negotiator. Guardian

    a weak outcome that heads of state will sign, a weak outcome that heads of state will sign. Watered down, weak. Not strong with courage but weak on those levels. Oh well rich countries for now sort of