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Algemeen

THE END OF HISTORY ILLUSION

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The ecological era we find ourselves in — whether we like it or not, and whether we recognize it or not — makes it necessary to rethink and revaluate our relationship with nature and technology. The world has entered a new era of rapid and major change. Significant shifts are occurring in global economic power, technology, urban growth and through Earth System changes that pose existential threats to humanity, and our relationship with nature on which human life depends. Given current trajectories, transformation of human societies in some form is inevitable. It is, however, not clear whether global transformations can…

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Raining down on us

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The more we destabilize the processes and systems that maintain the stability and resilience of our planet, the more our civilization is at risk. For millions of years temperatures on Earth have changed, significantly, there have been extinction events, but the planet it still here. During those millions of years, it’s our civilization that wasn’t there. Our world as we know it, including all of its history, goes back only about 12000 years. And this period has been characterized by a miraculously stable climate, that has allowed for the development of the agriculture, cities, economies and human societies that we…

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Time is running out

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ENTANGLED HABITATION, COHABITATION IN THE MORE-THAN-HUMAN CITY Landing in the Anthropocene, where our actions are leaving traces on the very rooted fabric of the planet, we are called to the challenge of moving towards a postanthropocentric paradigm. The anthropocentrism that our species has imposed on all others has unbalanced our position within nature, founded on what we often see as an evolutionary success: intrinsically human-centered, acting and developing as a continuous transformation of matter into products and processes, in a steady flow of supply and exploitation and extermination of animals and plants. But the effects of this imbalance are becoming…

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We’ve been warned before.

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When The Limits to Growth was first published in 1972, most economists, along with many industrialists, politicians, and Third World advocates raised their voices in outrage at the suggestion that population growth and material consumption need to be reduced by deliberate means. Over the years, Limits was attacked by many who didn’t understand or misrepresented its assertions, dismissing it as Malthusian hyperbole. But nothing that has happened in the last 50 years has invalidated the book’s warnings. We are experiencing the symptoms of a world in overshoot, where we are drawing on the world’s resources faster than they can be restored, and we…

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 NO MERE ILLUSION

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It is increasingly apparent that superficially separate global crises are synchronizing—occurring at the same time or in quick succession. Their combined impacts are both greater than and different from the sum of the harms they would create in isolation, were they not so deeply interconnected. Yet the causal mechanisms that produce this synchronization remain opaque and underexplored. A confluence of ecological, social, technological, financial-economic, natural and other forces are interacting These unpredictable interactions are causing future shocks of ever greater frequency and amplitude. Today’s crises simultaneously span ecological, natural, political, economic and technological systems, with ever increasing unpredictability, rapidity and…

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Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring  (1962) goal of a toxics-free future seems a very distant prospect.

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Novel entities are defined as new substances, new forms of existing substances and modified life forms, including chemicals and other new types of engineered materials or organisms not previously known to the Earth system as well as naturally occurring elements (for example, heavy metals) mobilized by anthropogenic activities. Novel means new in the geological sense, that is, created, introduced, or recirculated by humans. The entities are intentionally and unintentionally manufactured chemicals, engineered materials, and their transformation products, that have the potential to cause effects on vital Earth System processes as well as naturally occurring elements and materials mobilized in new…

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To understand Earth’s climate, think of it as a giant, planetary-scale heat engine that drives the circulation of the oceans and atmosphere.

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Oceans are a crucial regulator of the climate, absorbing large amounts of the additional planet-warming carbon that humans have pumped into the atmosphere since the mid-1800s, as well as more than 90 percent of the increased heat. Sea surface temperatures have risen significantly—hitting new records earlier this year—while warming is also melting ice sheets in polar regions, spilling huge quantities of freshwater into the ocean. The ocean covers 71 percent of the planet and holds 97 percent of its water, making the ocean a key factor in the storage and transfer of heat energy across the globe. The movement of…

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WE ARE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE

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“NOT ABOUT WHAT IS TO COME BUT WHAT IS ALREADY HAPPENING”. “THE CATASTROPHE IS THAT IT CONTINUE TO GO ON”. The Club of Rome commissioned the report The Limits to Growth in 1972 that shifted how we see what humans are doing to the planet. Looking back five decades later, what did we do and not do, what did we learn -if we did-, and what happens now? Humanity is not dealing with only a single-incident, non-interconnected local or regional crisis. Humanity is heading into a deteriorating and undeclared globalized emergency involving the collapse of its critical global survival and stability systems (such as the trespassing geobiophysical boundaries of…

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Tread lightly!

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Most life-sustaining resources are supplied by Earth’s critical zone—the thin outer terrestrial layer of the planet that extends from the surface of unaltered bedrock to the top of vegetation and the atmospheric boundary layer. The critical zone addresses the critical dependence of humans on the terrestrial surface layer, which is under critical pressure from human activity and is a critical interface of Earth planetary systems. The critical zone exhibits dominant material, information and energy fluxes governed by land-atmosphere, soil-vegetation, shallow geosphere-lithosphere, and land-ocean interactions. The role of soil in the processing of energy, material, and biodiversity is essential to the…

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There are no bailouts

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Multiple global systems become causally entangled in ways that significantly and irreversibly degrade humanity’s prospects. These interacting crises produce greater harm than they would have individually, if their host systems were not so profoundly interconnected. Humanity is in the midst of this interdependent, complex, dynamic world in a constant flux of change. The Earth System crisis is particularly pressing. The present excess of economic hubris in plundering and colonizing the earth, an anthropocentric colonization, is leading to a very different state of the Earth System, one that is likely to be much less hospitable to the development of human societies….

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