This evening I went to a free lecture at the Royal Society in London. A lecture entitled Continental loss: the quest to determine Antarctica’s contribution to sea-level change, https://royalsociety.org/events/2015/04/continental-loss/ given by an excellent speaker, Professor Matt A King of Tasmania University. It was well presented and is on a subject of great importance. Despite that the hall was only about a third full and that is in a city of 7 to 8 million people. Perhaps they will only wake up when the water is up to their ankles because the Thames Barrier has been overrun by the actual change. We should be afraid not of the uncertainty in the measurements but in the lack of measurements and what we are missing by not having said measurements. It’s coming, it’s just a question of when and with it will come exodus and migration as our ever growing human population tries to move away from the problems of our own making.
I took this photo the day after I had taken a short European flight. A beautiful early morning sky with most of the clouds being made up of contrails from flights having recently crossed overhead. Apparently, there could be up to 13,000 planes in the sky at any one time and 500,000 people. There is some controversial studies on the impact of these man made clouds on climate change. It is difficult for us to comprehend how anything that we do might might affect the planet that we live on. The planet for most people is so big and so solid that they have difficulty understanding human impact especially since our individual lives are so short. But do we really understand eccentricity, axial tilt and axial precession? Probably not. Do we know why the last series of ice ages started 2.5 million years or so ago? We can trace Homo Sapiens back about 200,000 years so we came about during an ice age but everything that we see and use has come about since the end of the last ice age and the start of the interglacial that we now live in that started about 12,000 years ago. In that time the estimated 5 million of us started farming and the industrial revolution so that within the relatively, in biological terms, short time frame we had become 1 billion people by around 1800. Just 200 years later we are well past 7 billion and rising fast and have invented cars, planes and smart phones but are we so smart? The bit of the sky that we live in is around 15Km thick, the channel that separates England and France is wider than that and you probably drive or travel further that that to go to work. And we expect this thin layer to absorb everything that we throw at it. Many people accumulate wealth and are so concerned with ensuring their offspring are financially secure but we all share the same small sky and these people don’t appear to realise that you can’t buy a clean piece of it no matter how many pounds, yen or dollars that you have. Save the planet, why, it isn’t necessary? We in all probability could make Earth uninhabitable for ourselves and could take many more species with us as we carry on with our own demise. Life will carry on with or without us and won’t even notice our passing as it re-configures the planet for yet another time. Copyright Junagarh Media, http://www.junagarhmedia.co.uk
My partner and I have been very lucky to have traveled a bit and one of the places we went to was the Pantanal in Brazil. This area is the world’s largest tropical wetland area. As such it is a very diverse place for fauna and flora. We took this beautiful photo on one of the days we were there. You can buy a copy of it from our website http://www.junagarhmedia.co.uk. Unfortunately, 99% of the Pantanal is privately owned for ranching and agriculture with perhaps 8 million or more cattle now eating it. Such heavy farming is bound to degrade this very special area and we hear so many verbal alarm bells from conservationists and scientists that most humans become immune, feel powerless or simply don’t care. There are some very simple numbers regarding us, humanity, and we can’t face them. So at the risk of repeating myself one more time. When we entered this inter-glacial (and exited what was probably NOT the last ice age) period some 15,000 years ago there were supposedly 5,000,000 of us. In terms of our “clean” water all of them would have been without it. Now there are more than 7,000,000,000 of us and still increasing and 780,000,000 of that very large number do not have access to “clean” water. As our politicians and nations kick the ball of climate change around while corporations and big business stop them aiming for a goal of living within the planet’s means there seems little hope of survival for beautiful places like the Pantanal. Think about the numbers, those 780,000,000 have every right to a decent life so how much concrete are we going to have to pour and steel are we going to have to make to give these people water, housing, roads, schools, hospitals and everything else that goes with our modern life. And it is not as if we have levelled off in our numbers for our global population is still increasing. I personally think it is time for a one child policy for the entire planet until we can get ourselves down to a reasonable number where we aren’t fouling our own nest. If we don’t then in a couple of generations those children will have as much chance of seeing some of the species of the Pantanal as they will of seeing a dinosaur.