Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Scientists say only five years left to save the Earth


by Andrew Jones
The moment is coming, when humanity oversteps the mark, walks out into the unknown, a point of no return. The fragility of the world means that our oil addiction can only be tolerated for so long. However, when will our damage to the environment become irreversible and our efforts to reverse it futile? Only in 2009, the United States was consuming oil at a rate of around 18.69 million barrels per day, a rate which is fast becoming unsustainable. So at what point can humanity close the taps and still manage to repair the damage which we have inflicted on the world over these past two hundred years?

Alan Weissman’s book The World Without Us offers a great insight into humanity's effects on the world and how long it will take for them to be reversed. The average human house, in a moderate temperate climate, would take around 500 years to be demolished, save for only a few metallic items which could withstand the corrosion. If, however, we continue to consume, burn and waste the planets resources, how long would it take before the planet became permanently damaged? The scientist who created the Gaia Theory, Professor James Lovelock, believes that our impact may soon cause the planet's life-sustaining environment to work against us. In fact he has concluded that the moment has already passed and that humanity's impact will never be reversed. A bleak outlook if it is proved correct as he has argued that civilisation is now unlikely to survive due to climate change. Indeed our impact is seemingly not just confined to the climate, as Professor Bob Watson has warned that biodiversity is fast approaching this point of no return.

Trying desperately to look for a positive result on Google, the best I could find was a warning by the IEA that humanity has only five years before the point of no return arrives.  
We are simply creating too many new fossil-fuel power stations for the world to cope. Interestingly, however,despite all this media attention, society seems uninterested in what many describe as the greatest threat of all. Rates of belief in climate change have dropped in the UK to 71% from 91% in 2005. At a time when the problem is becoming all the more pressing, the findings do not seem to inspire confidence. The purpose of this article was genuinely to produce a rough estimate for maybe around a few decades or so. However the evidence seems pretty clear that the point has been reached and the last possible moment to change things is now.

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