Even the pope understands the concepts surrounding environmental feedback loops and thresholds.
To conclude my blogs on environmental issues and decision-making, I want to establish that the two important aspects of the environment that I’ve learned will make or break our efforts to save the world is feedback loops and thresholds.
As scientists, we have not highlighted these issues enough in our publicizing the climate change disaster. We have presented graphs, trends, and tendencies, without ever emphasizing that while these are important, the environment works in a way that once we hit a threshold, the next day we experience disaster. We know this, governments know this, but the average citizen doesn’t.
The temperature of the earth can rise .2 degrees, 1 degree, 3 degrees, and everything be ok, but once it hits 3.1 degrees for example, weather patterns shift, enough fresh water is put back in the ocean, and corals die- and we have an ice age, fisheries collapse, crops stop growing, for example.
As environmentalists and scientists, we NEED to change our message.
This weeks lecture has put these issues into perspective once again. We try and change the world, develop alternative scenarios and manage risks, but we have NO IDEA what Earth’s thresholds are, or of what feedback loop we are causing by accepting this ‘unacceptable but maybe tolerable risk’.
If we don’t start abiding by the precautionary principle, we are all doomed. We should listen to the pope; he is wiser than we sometimes give him credit for.