Ecocide to genocide.


1829 The Rocket.  photograph Gary Roberts

Stephensons Rocket Number One (1829) led to the huge expansion of coal usage which persisted through factories and homes.

Measurements of air in ice cores show that for the past 800,000 years up until the 20th century, the atmospheric CO2 concentration stayed within the range 170 to 300 parts per million (ppm), making the recent rapid rise to nearly 400 ppm over 200 years particularly remarkable.

As Earth warmed from the last ice age, temperature and CO2 started to rise at approximately the same time and continued to rise in tandem from about 18,000 to 11,000 years ago. Changes in ocean temperature, circulation, chemistry and biology caused CO2 to be released to the atmosphere, which combined with other feedbacks to push Earth into an even warmer state.

For earlier geological times, CO2 concentrations and temperatures have been inferred from less direct methods. Those suggest that the concentration of CO2 last approached 400 ppm about 3 to 5 million years ago, a period when global average surface temperature is estimated to have been about 2 to 3.5°C higher than in the pre-industrial period. At 50 million years ago, CO2 may have reached 1000 ppm, and global average temperature was probably about 10°C warmer than today. Under those conditions, Earth had little ice, and sea level was at least 60 metres higher than current levels. ( The Royal Society, independent scientific academy of the UK and the Commonwealth, dedicated to promoting excellence in science ).

In April of 2018, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded an average concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide above 410 parts per million (ppm). This was the highest monthly average in recorded history, and in fact according to ice core records it is the highest value in at least 800,000 years.

With the persistent ignoring of these factors any government, leader or corporation will be judged as guilty of Ecocide (the destruction of large areas of the natural environment as a consequence of human activity).

Which will de facto  make them guilty of genocide due to starvation and conflict caused by environmental destruction. 

Northern California’s Camp Fire and the Woolsey Fire in the south have collectively burned more than 240,000 acres, killed at least 74 people, and more than 1,000 people are still missing.

“Nobody thought this could happen,” Donald Trump told reporters during one of his stops.

He also said, after viewing the destruction, that his views on climate change had remained unchanged.

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Time to leave ?

Following the recent death of Professor Stephen Hawking with the last interviews and his final paper attention has been given on his prediction for our planet and his recommendation that we start looking and planing for a way out via another planet or planets.

Obviously no one, certainly not myself, would challenge the thinking of such a great person but I think there is a danger here of leaving human kind an “option” to ignore its moral and practical obligations.

Hawking’s reported rationale was that humankind would eventually fall victim to an extinction-level catastrophe – perhaps sooner rather than later. What worried him were so-called low-probability, high impact events – a large asteroid striking our planet is the classic example.

But Hawking perceived a host of other potential threats: artificial intelligence, climate change, GM viruses and nuclear war to name a few.

In 2016, he told the BBC: “Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or 10,000 years.”

My fear is that the “other planet option” may be counter productive in the same way that some people consider zoos could act as some sort of “arc” housing species whilst letting then become extinct in the wild.

I hope that people will read all the interview that Professor Hawkins gave including the final paragraph. The day we can evacuate humankind ( and the flora and fauna of our planet) are in his words well over 200 years away. Even the most optimistic climate scientists understand we are far closer to dramatic and disastrous change at our current rate of CO2 emission measuring it in decades or less.

The Professor was confident that humans would spread out into the cosmos by that time (given the chance), but added:

“We will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period.”