The picture that comes to mind of the transition to a sustainable economy is that of a baby turtle struggling to get out of it’s egg; desperate to escape before the predators get to it.
The predator in this case is collapse – collapse of the global financial system due to massive debt in fiat currencies, collapse of the climate system due to runaway greenhouse effect, collapse of the global ecosystem that provides us with free ecosystem services, and so on.
These two 21st Century phenomena – Collapse & Transition – ought to be seen as part of a whole – a whole that I have named Collansition. You, see ‘Collapse’ and ‘Transition’ are not mutually exclusive, you have to have one in order to get another.
You won’t get transition without some sort of collapse to drive it; necessity is the mother of invention, after-all. Similarly, you won’t get collapse without legions of people trying to find a way out. The two concepts are intertwined. In entrepreneurial circles, there is an expression ‘creative destruction’ which speaks to the same concept. There is also the concept of the yin and yang which speaks of the struggle of opposites.
The big issue for us humans, and all of Earth’s organisms more advanced than bacteria, is whether we will get to transition before the collapse makes it impossible. Collapse, after-all features global temperatures 6 degrees Celsius above baseline, leading to the extinction of humans, and the subsequent irradiation of the entire planet from melted-down nuclear power stations.
The mainstream science on climate change says that it may be possible to transition before collapse, but only if we follow the script: low carbon pathways, 2 degree target, carbon budgets etc. But who is actually following the script? Trump? Putin? The fossil fuel industry? Your government?
Unfortunately, the science tells us that you don’t have to deviate too far from the script to lose the lofty transition optimism. In fact, all you have to do to lose lofty optimism is to follow the world news.
So, Collansition has become the main game; except that most people don’t know it. As a result of this widespread ignorance, most people are still batting for the losing ‘business as usual’ team, rather than coming over to the winning side; and this is not good for people or the planet.
In order to help move the equation in favor of transition we need to perturb the system, somehow. And this is where Eearth comes in.
Eearth is a new professional counter-culture devoted to environmental sustainability and human well-being, for all. It is an integrated system of knowledge, belief and practice based on environmental science, entrepreneurialism, Buddhist philosophy and plain-old common sense. In three words, Eearth is: about bloody time.
Eearth is an integral complement to Western Culture, and has much for everyone. If you are into business, think of Eearth as a gateway to the multi-trillion dollar commerce associated with transition to the sustainable economy. If you want to understand environmental frameworks, Eearth teaches the language of the 9-Earth-Systems. If health is your thing, Eearth shows you that we may be on the verge of finally getting diesel fuel exhaust out of our city air. If you are a spiritual person, think of Eearth as a pathway to a deeper connection to the living systems of Eearth by finding your Ecological Self. If you think that mainstream religion is ill-informed about the answers to Life’s Big Questions, Eearth answers them, sensibly advised by science and commonsense. Eearth Culture is the long overdue upgrade to Western Culture’s operating system, to help it become sustainable.
So, if you want to breathe the rich atmosphere of opportunity for commerce, health, lifestyle and spirituality and become a part of shifting collansition away from collapse and towards transition, get some Eearth today.
Everything you need is on the website, but if you want the full experience, you ought to book a seat in the Eearth Extravaganza.
Eearth – Extravaganza – Brisbane – 20 May 2017 – Limited Space – Book Now!
International Events coming soon…]]>
There’s a lot of talk these days about the transition to a low carbon economy that has clearly already begun. At the same time, there is talk about collapse – collapse of the global financial system due to massive debt in fiat currencies, collapse of the climate system due to runaway greenhouse effect, ecological collapse and so on.
These two things ought to be seen as part of a whole – a whole that I have named Collansition. You, see ‘collapse’ and ‘transition’ are not mutually exclusive, you have to have one in order to get another.
You won’t get transition without some sort of collapse to drive it – necessity is the mother of invention, after-all. And you won’t get collapse without legions of people trying to find a way out. The two concepts are intertwined. In entrepreneurial circles, there is an expression ‘creative destruction’ which speaks to the same concept. There is also the concept of the yin and yang which speaks of the struggle of opposites.
The big issue for us humans, and all of Earth’s organisms more advanced than bacteria, is whether we will get to transition before the collapse makes it impossible. Collapse, after-all features global temperatures 6 degrees Celsius above baseline, leading to irradiation of the planet from melted-down nuclear power stations.
The mainstream science on climate change says that it is (or maybe) possible to transition before collapse if we follow the script – low carbon pathways, 2 degree target etc. But who is actually following the script? Trump? Putin? The fossil fuel industry? The world’s governments? You don’t have to veer too far away from mainstream science to lose that lofty optimism. In fact, all you have to do to lose lofty optimism – techno-optimism, they call that – is to read the world news.
So, issues of collansition has sort of become the main game, now. In order to help move the equation in favor of transition, we need to perturb the system, somehow. And this is where Eearth Culture comes in.
Eearth is a new counterculture devoted to environmental sustainability and human well-being, for all. It is an integrated system of knowledge, belief and practice based on environmental science, entrepreneurialism, Buddhist philosophy and plain-old common sense.
So, if you want to help shift the collansition away from collapse and towards transition, get some Eearth Culture today.
Guy Lane – Founder – Eearth Culture – 4 May 2017
An objective appraisal of the state of the world today, leads one to realize that the trajectory of human development is heading on a path to imminent collapse of the global ecosystem and the global economy. It seems as though collapse of some sort is inevitable, but when it happens, how it happens, how deep is the collapse, and what is left for humans once the dust has settled, these things are as yet, unclear.
If there is any chance to avoid collapse, it is a slim, and it becomes increasingly difficult, day by Business-as-Usual day. So, in order to make the collapse as painless as possible – and to allow for as much opportunity for the human family post-collapse, some new ideas and behaviours are called for.
One of these ideas is Ecophiny – an ecological epiphany. Ecophiny is a intellectual, spiritual or emotional awakening to the objective state of today’s world, and a recognition that we need to transform if we are to survive, both individually and as a species.
Ecophiny is a personal event, some thing that happens to individuals. On the other hand, Mass-Ecophiny is when it happens to people en-masse. For Mass-Ecophiny to lead to effective change for the Long Future, it needs to be combined with the appropriate knowledge, passion and drive of the individuals.
Whether it is even possible to foster Mass-Ecophiny is unclear, and what specifically people would be required to do is yet to be codiefied. However, it is safe to say that if millions of people start to take actions that were consistent with achieving a Long Future, the forces of political ecology would rapidly start to shift in the humans’ favour.
The immediate priority is to protect the planetary boundaries becoming any further damaged, transition to low carbon economy, remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere, rehabilitate natural living systems, step away from nuclear energy and weapons and (somehow) mop up the mess made by this industry. Just stabilising the planet is a big job, letalone making it better again. Going to Mars is just a complete waste of time money and effort, and a major distraction from the real task at hand.
If it is possible to survive or avoid the coming collapse, then the humans may have a very Long Future ahead of them. Our planet has 1.75 – 2.25 billion years left in the circumstellar habitable zone (assuming about 275 ppm CO2e in the atmosphere) before the Sun ages, expands and burns up the planet. The birthright of the human species is to live to that ripe old age of a billion or more.
While there are many reasons why we might not get to a billion – meteor impact, being just one of them, not to mention the legacy of nuclear contamination – it is not without precedent for a single species to last aeons of time.
Many species have remained largely unchanged for hundreds of millions years. One example is the Nautilus, believed to be 500 million years old. If, collectively, the humans are lucky and smart, maybe we can live as long as the Nautilus. Maybe longer. That’s a Long Future, indeed.]]>
As could be expected, the US oil and gas industry has served up yet another ecological disaster that threatens our oceans, atmosphere, and our seafood.
As if the Alaskan coast wasn’t suffering enough, with the:
Alaskan wildlife now has the Hilcorp Holocaust to deal with. Thanks Jeff.
A gas pipeline in Cook Inlet is leaking over 200,000 cubic feet per day of powerful greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere. The CEO of the company is reluctant to shut it down because it is powering four oil wells (i.e. making a shit-pile of money).
Burning gas to make oil!!! Don’t get me started on Thermodynamic Oil Collapse, carbon emissions, and the Energy Return on Energy Investment.
This time the villain is not Tony Hayward from BP – the man whom most people rightly associate with the ecocide in the Gulf of Mexico. Incidentally, go and watch the movie Deepwater Horizon starring Mark Whalberg, it’s excellent, although it covers the destruction of the rig, not the eco-disaster that followed.
This time the (maybe) evil-fiend – public enemy of every living thing on the planet – is Jeffery Hildebrand, the Chairman and CEO of Hilcorp, He is worth over $4 billion and seems pretty happy about that. I say ‘maybe’ evil-fiend, because what he does next will ultimately determine his status as ecocidal psychopath or stand-up guy.
Now, I can’t speak for what the Happy-Jeff will do next, but what I read thus far, is that he will do what is necessary to ensure that this inconvenient ecological catastrophe doesn’t affect his wealth and prestige. That’s the normal pattern with the subspecies of humanity: Homo petroleumus. Is he one?
Well, I have a different plan. In my view of the world, the oil industry ought to be wound up over the next decade to facilitate the orderly transition to zero carbon economy, world-wide. We all know that the biggest obstacles to that sustainable future are the billionaires. Today, the billionaire-limelight falls on Happy-Jeff.
Now, I have been writing about these things for years and I find a great deal of satisfaction in slicing up these psychopaths through my fiction novels.
In the novel Intervene the bad guy from Deepwater Petroleum is Tom Wayward – he gets shot to death with an silenced M4 carbine by a biker, hired by a spaceman called Zem who is worth $20 trillion, and who came to Earth on a ten year mission to restructure the global economy to make it sustainable.
In Aquaria – oilman Tex Drillerson tries to turn the world’s most popular public aquarium and marine science precinct into a oil production facility. He fails, and has his wealth stripped away by Lucy Callahan, the Sealioness of Aquaria Bay, with the help of finance Guru Stacey Keiser, after Lucy’s dopey boyfriend burns his rig down with a barrel of ethanol, a biofuel made from algae.
In The Oil Price, the CEO of Peking Petroleum, gets blown up by his own suicide bomber, then gets his head punched by Danny Lexion, and squirted with 9mm rounds by the ‘pacifist’ Bren Hannan who just had a gut-full of oil men. Bren realised that when the oilmen are at war with the planet and everything in it, then it’s time to go to war back.
In the novel Heart of Bone billionaire poison merchant Gilly Clay is poisoned to death by his Head-of-Security with 3-nitro-benzathrone, the most toxic substance known to science (produced in diesel engines). Gilly Clay makes his money from anything toxic and he loves oil shale, so he deserves everything he gets.
Anyway, back to Happy-Jeff …
My model is very simple: Atonement or Ecoseppukku. It goes like this.
Given that this eco-disaster – that threatens endangered beluga and humpback whales – has happened on Happy-Jeff”s watch, then he must:
Happy-Jeff can get out of this mess with most of his ill-gotten wealth intact if he chooses this path. Failing that, he must commit Ecoseppuku.
Unlike its Japanese namesake seppuku (also known as Hari-kari) – which is cheap and relatively quick – Ecoseppuku lasts a lifetime, and can be very, very expensive.
If Happy-Jeff does not atone, then he ought to divest his entire wealth to environmental charities, and spend the rest of his life, poor, working for them.
Now the happy-billionaire may be reluctant to go down this path himself, so it is up the community to force his hand. I’m not advocating violence, despite what my (sometimes) gruesome fiction novels might imply.
Instead, I am advocating a popular uprising against the fossil fuel elite who are retarding the cultural development of the human race, and driving our species, and all the rest, to extinction.
If you think that this approach is inappropriate because it is too personal, then consider this. If the gas spill were taking place in Happy-Jeff’s backyard, I would have no stake in it, and I would butt-out.
But the spill is happening in the commons – that’s my ocean, and your’s. And it’s not up to smug billionaires to determine whether the common areas live or die. That is the decision of the global community.
Keep smiling Jeff. It’s you’re move, mate.]]>
Reading some of my earlier posts, you’d think that sustainability was all doom and gloom: runaway climate change, the sixth and near term extinction. Well, this Gregorian calendar New Year ( as opposed to Eearth New Year on 16 July) I am going to make a distinctive effort to keep it cheery, irrespective of the truth.
And what could be more cheery than a trip to the coast where the US government has committed to spend $40 million on a test-bed for offshore renewable energy technology including wind and wave.
I am very partial to marine energy because I like renewables, and I like the ocean. Apart from anything else, marine renewables promise more jobs on boats, and who doesn’t think that’s a good thing? Furthermore, marine renewable energy falls under two types of Blue Economy; a marine based economy, and the other that describes economies that work with nature.
Another big plus of marine renewables is that they can be located away from residences, thus doing away with a lot of NIMBY.
Offshore renewables also provide habitat for marine species, creating a rare synergy between the demands of humans and the needs of nature. The seal, shown above fitted with a radio tracker, is suggestive of the marine science that is acquired in the planning process.
These themes are discussed in my fiction novel, AQUARIA – an adventure story that highlights marine sustainability issues. In the story, Lucy Callahan, CEO of Aquaria, a popular public aquarium and marine science precinct, goes to war with Tex Drillerson of Expedient Energy, who wants to drill for oil in her marine park.
Aquaria – available here as ebook and here as paperback.
The battlelines are drawn when the oil firm destroys the 10 Megawatt vertical axis wind turbine – the VAWT – that powers the aquarium facility. Diving into battle (both literally and metaphorically) Callahan finds enemies near and far, and surprising allies, including some sealions and a handsome man in a helicopter.
The purpose of my sustainability themed novels (of which there are now seven) is to help normalize conversations about sustainability. These books are my humble contribution to making Western culture sustainable – or at least, less unsustainable.
Another key benefit of marine renewables, besides the Blue Economy jobs and synergy with wildlife, is that there is an abundance of energy in and above the sea. With the right technology, marine renewable power can be inexpensive. Winds are stronger at sea than on land. Plus, wave strength can be predicted days in advance, allowing for power supply in the network to be planned in advance.
Predictable, sustainable and in-sync-with-nature (sigh!). These are three things that we are unlikely to see in the United States for the next four years, because you-know-who got into the White House.
We can only hope that the offshore energy park gets up before it gets trumpfted and goes the way of Lucy Callahan’s VAWT.
World news watchers may have noticed a few days ago two stories, one of which should have had us sitting on the edge of our seats in alarm.
The two stories were that a) Princess Leia died and, b) Chinese wildlife officials made the largest haul of Pangolin scales – three thousand kilograms, in total. The stories broke on 27 and 29 December, respectively.
“Say what?” I hear you all cry. “Princess Leia died?”
“No takers for the Pangolin story?” I ask, hopefully, only to be shortly disappointed.
“What the hell is a Pangolin, anyway?” comes the reply.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but a Pangolin is not a fictitious character from the Star Wars franchise. Instead, it is the generic name for one of eight different species of ant-eaters, all of which are critically endangered to extinction – and all of which are regarded as delicacies and valuable additions to the Chinese Natural Medicine market. Pangolins are the most trafficked wildlife on Earth and they are almost all gone. The scales, the flesh and even the fetuses of the Pangolins fetch high prices. $1,000 a kilo for the scales, for example. The Pangolins’ natural range is across Africa and Asia, so there is no shortage of poor people willing to trade some biodiversity for cash.
The Pangolin is famous for curling up into a ball when it is threatened, as showing in the doctored photo of Princess Leia, above. “Help me Obi Wan. You’re my only hope.” Who doesn’t remember those famous words. Carrie Fisher and her character was a cultural icon, even to a crusty old iconoclast like me.
The question is, though, in the context of ensuring the habitability of the living systems of our home planet (that’s ‘our’ home planet, not Luke Skywalker’s home planet, Tatooine) – which is the most important story – the Princess or the Pangolin? Obviously, the story about the Pangolins ought to be front page news around the world. But was it?
After-all, a 3,000 kg seizure of Pangolin scales – representing some 7,000 or so dead Pangolins – suggests a significant uptick in smuggling of this endangered wildlife, or renewed success on the part of the regulatory authorities. Either way, it is important.
But of course, the story about the one dead human, and not the 7,000 dead Pangolins, dominated the headlines for days. As a result, the story about the slow bleed-out of our biosphere was relegated to a few column inches on page 300 of google news, to use a metaphor.
This suggests either that the corporate people who decide what is newsworthy are culpable for keeping the public ignorant, or the public, who choose which news stories they prefer, are to blame.
Either way, the Princess Leia versus the Pangolins saga – the Princess Pangolin saga – is a serious wake-up that we need to be discerning about what is existentially critical information, and what is culturally interesting. Big difference between the two.
We need to discern between that which is existentially critical information, and that which is merely culturally interesting.
To help the public make these important distinctions, I write fiction novels with sustainability themes. While the Pangolins don’t feature in any of my seven novels (yet), the issues around biodiversity conservation are writ large in The Moogh – available here as ebook and here as paperback.
The Moogh is a mysterious creature that wanders out of a forest and gains a cult-like following as a new-age spirit that helps people to connect with nature, before it is too late. The story of the Moogh is told through young journalist Maggie Tarp who works with the Fractious News Network… (see reviews here).
A central theme in The Moogh – as indicated by the cover image – is the importance of the Planetary Boundaries. In environmental-science speak – these are the nine biophysical systems that need to be protected if the humans are to enjoy a long future. We have already broken four of them.
One of the broken planetary boundaries is called Biosphere Integrity, and it has two sub-categories: functional diversity and genetic diversity. Both of these subcategories are squandered as the Pangolins are slaughtered.
The purpose of my novels is to help normalize conversations about sustainability, to try and help Western culture become sustainable – to be discerning about what news we read, for example. It might be too late for the poor Pangolins, but there are plenty of other species shuffling towards extinction. Maybe the memory of Princess Pangolin can save them from the Dark Side of human behavior.
All the fiction titles by Guy Lane.]]>
Yet in reality, the use of any particular date for the beginning of the New Year is an arbitrary choice. This is because a year is the time it takes for Planet Earth to circle the Sun and there is no place on a circle that offers a natural starting point. As a result, around the world, the New Year is celebrated on many different days.
As might be expected, the choice of these particular days goes back into antiquity and is often interwoven with religious stories. True to form, the Christian tradition offers a particularly odd justification for January 1 being the chosen date for the New Year; this is the day that baby Jesus had his foreskin cut off, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ.
Now, if the feast of the foreskin doesn’t float your boat, you might consider a different New Year’s day to celebrate, maybe something that is contemporary and sustainable, such as Eearth New Year.
Eearth New Year is 16 July, and the minute that signifies the end of one annual cycle and the beginning of the next is 9.29 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.
Eearth seeks to help focus Western culture on sustainability and happiness and this is achieved by an integrated system of belief, knowledge & practice devoted the cause. As such, Eearth celebrations are aligned to events that allow for narratives that resonate with the needs of our era. One particular need is for the public to understand what we are doing to the planet and what are the consequences of these actions.
July 16 is significant because it is the date of the first ever nuclear bomb test – in New Mexico, USA in 1945.
Ironically, the event’s official title is the Trinity Bomb Test. Trinity is named after a poem by John Donne about the Holy Trinity. This simply goes to show how deeply Christian tradition has penetrated our society – we even name nuclear explosions after it…
Anyway, the event is significant for Eearth because the Trinity bomb test is one of the instances that have been flagged as the potential beginning of the Anthropocene Era.
For those not yet in the know, we humans are now the main driving force of change on the surface of this planet, and geologists have decided to name a new geological era after us: the Anthropocene. The short video below explains nicely.
It is not certain if the Trinity test will be selected as the official beginning of the Anthropocene – that decision could be a few years away. So, until such time as the official agreement about the Anthropocene is resolved, 16 July is regarded as Eearth’s Interim New Year – subject to change, if necessary.
It is fitting to align the Eearth New Year with the beginning of the Anthropocene Era, as Eearth seeks to help foster the creation of a subsequent era, where humans are in balance with nature. Eearth calls this back-in-sync – indicated by the Eearth People wearing halos. Halos have been used in artwork for thousands of years to indicate enlightenment; and enlightenment is something that our culture desperately needs, today.
On Eearth New Year, it is planned to hold parties all around the world to celebrate the solar cycle, to acknowledge the Anthropocene and how we ought to behave in order that we avoid the worst of the banquet of consequences that we have ‘baked in’ to our future. It is also a time for merriment, laughter and being happy, despite our grim predicament. That’s the Eearth Discipline, you see.
Other Eearth celebrations include the Full Moons, the Solstices and Equinoxes. See more detail on the Eearth website <e-e-a-r-t-h.org>.
Become Eearth People today, and maybe we can enjoy New Years for the Long Future.
Eearth is the philosophy of sustainability fiction writer, Guy Lane.
Get enlightened with sustainable fiction today.]]>
There is a long flat stretch of railway track that runs for a hundred kilometers then rises over a little hill beyond which is a three kilometer downhill run. At the bottom of the hill is a hairpin bend in the middle of a bustling town of 200,000 people.
Picture a freight train with 20 carriages filled with light sweet crude oil – a highly volatile and combustible fuel. The train is heading along the long flat stretch at 50 kilometers per hour when the driver gets a call from his engineer: the brakes are faulty.
Upon hearing this news, a reasonable person would slam on the brakes or ditch the oil tankers, because once the train goes over the crest of the hill, there will be no way to slow the train before the hairpin bend.
Travelling at anything other than dead-slow speed, the train will tip, leading to an explosion. The faster it tips, the more of the oil cylinders will explode. If the train hits the bend at full speed, the whole town will be leveled – killing most, or maybe all, the inhabitants in the vast percussion and oil-flame of the explosion.
Now, consider that the train is the fossil-fueled global economy, and that the town is human civilization and the nine key biophysical systems (planetary boundaries) that ensure Earth is a suitable home for humans.
Where do you think we are on the railway track, today? One hundred kilometers away from the town? Or over the crest of the hill?
How do you think the drivers of our global economy are responding to the news of the imminent crisis? Let me tell you…
Would you be surprised to hear that the engine is already over the crest as well as some of the oil tanks, heading down towards the hairpin bend, trailing all the rest behind.
However, instead of ditching the oil tankers and hitting the brakes, our global elite – the incumbent political and business leaders – are adamant to add more oil tanks and to make the train go faster. This means grow the global economy based on fossil fuels.
Thus, our imminent future all laid out before us… A global calamity, man-made, and wholly unavoidable. Will we be killed or merely maimed?
It has taken me a little while to process this information, but it is now inevitable that human civilization will suffer multi-meter sea level rise, wildly increased weather extremes and the shifting of agricultural rains – leading to sharply worsening food security. We have ‘baked in’ an unavoidable global calamity.
Yesterday, I was preaching an option for sustainability & happiness. Today, I fear that I need to change my script: the best we can aim for is harm minimization. The oil tankers are going to tip. The question is, how many?
Some would tell us that the imminent explosion will take out everybody in the town. Here is doom-meister Guy McPherson on a NZ TV show.
Others would hold that we have been out of ‘right relationship with reality’ so long that a reckoning is imminent. The question is, how bad will it be? Couched in the language of Christian theology, Michael Dowd tells this story with scientific discipline and the passion of the evangelical evolutionist that he is.
Here is US Senator Bernie Sanders using the appropriately stern tone to demand that the US Government ditch the oil tankers immediately and hit the brakes. In this context, it means to shift away from fossil fuels to radical energy efficiency and renewable energy.
I have invested a lot of effort into my happiness and sustainability message, so I am not going to ditch it straight away. Instead, I will gradually tweak the language to bring the appropriate amount of alarm, so to be honest, but not to spook the neophytes to this conversation.
We western people, have, after-all squandered our unprecedented freedoms (political and economic) to create an infantile bubble of soap operas and sports heroes. Precious few of us can take the medicine without a sweetener. Precious few of us actually know even what I am talking about. It’s like living the Matrix having taken the red pill…
Not only is this wholly avoidable human calamity deeply saddening, it is emotionally exhausting. What do the Eearth People have to do, to bring about a change? When the end of the world is your day job, it can be hard to go home and unwind.
Listen to Tim Christopher and Chris Hedges talk about the coming climate crisis and mechanisms to cope with reality. Think about this tonight, after you have read every page of the Eearth website and signed up to ‘Waxing Gibbous‘, the Eearth Newsletter… What will happen to all the Bangladeshi’s when the oil tankers start to tip??? Maybe they will try to emigrate to your town, assuming yours has yet to be hit by the oil tanker.
“Plankton?” you say. “What has plankton got to do with anything? What is a plankton, anyway?”
Plankton are the tiny (and sometimes not so tiny) organisms that drift around the ocean. Most are so small that you need a microscope to see them, although some, like jellyfish can get very big. What defines the plankton is that they can not move horizontally through the water – they drift and wander with the tide.
There are two broad types of plankton: plant and animal plankton.
The animal plankton are called zooplankton. Some zooplankton are baby versions of various animals. Others are species that will always be small.
The other type of plankton are plants, referred to as phytoplankton. Because they are plants, the phytoplankton combine CO2 and water in the presence of sunlight to create sugars that they use to grow their bodies.
Because they photosynthesize, phytoplankton produce oxygen. In fact, the phytoplankton produce half of all the oxygen in the atmosphere. Think about that as you inhale. With every breath, you are absorbing into your bloodstream oxygen that has passed through the metabolic pathway of plankton. This is not some small detail. Every other breath, you owe a debt of gratitude to tiny marine plants.
Plankton absorb CO2 from the ocean, and this is replaced by CO2 from the air. The carbon from the CO2 is absorbed into their bodies. Some of the phytoplankton die and sink to the ocean floor and sequester atmospheric carbon. In this way, plankton help to keep the climate stable.
Some phytoplankton produce a chemical gas called di-methyl sulfide, or DMS. This is a very light molecule that rises into the air where it can form the nucleus upon which water can condense. In this way, plankton help to form clouds. From the clouds come the rain that falls on our farmlands and helps to grow food.
Plankton help to provide us with food in other ways. As the lower level of the marine food chain, ultimately, all the other animals feed on phytoplankton. Phytoplankton feed our seafood.
By now, you’ll probably have gathered that plankton are pretty important, not just to the things in the ocean, but to the people, as well.
PLANKTON we can’t live without them
With all this going on, you would think that phytoplankton would be in for some sort of United Nations award for service to humanity. Or at least have a day named after them: Plankton Day.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that because we humans are devoid of plankton humility. In fact, not only do we not respect the plankton, in the last 50 years, we have killed off 40% of them due to climate change making the sea temperature increase.
Humans are the only species that burns things, and we burn billions of tons of coal and oil and gas, every year. This adds CO2 gas to the atmosphere and the CO2 gas absorbs heat that would otherwise waft into space. Most of that heat ends up in the ocean where the plankton live. We can have coal and fossil fuels or we can have plankton. We need to make the right choice.
Unless we stop burning fossil fuels and pull much of the excess CO2 out of the atmosphere – quickly, we are going to end up with so little plankton in the ocean that all the processes listed above stop working. The scientists tell us that we are losing 1% of the plankton every year – and we have already lost nearly half. You do the math.
If we humans are to survive on this planet, we need to adopt a belief system that treats plankton as sacred and fosters actions that help to regrow them back in the ocean.
Eearth is a new system of values and beliefs that is devoted to environmental sustainability and human happiness.
You might consider adopting Eearth today. See the website to learn more:
Three seemingly unrelated elements aligned over the period of this week.
Sometimes it takes a celestial event to draw attention to the crazy shit that we humans do on and to the Earth. Everyday, we move closer to the fire that we have lit. Will it warm us, or burn us to a crisp? That is yet to be determined.
It is not inevitable that climate change will send the human race extinct this century, but there are some ominous signs. Climate denial and climate blindness are two major obstacles in between us and the Long Future.
Climate denial among powerful people is fed by a dogged resistance to change, and the slick influence of the incumbent economic elite. This feeds the climate blindness of the ‘moderns’ the mainstream people for whom getting ahead is the most important thing in life, and to whom the mass media speaks.
But the power elite and the moderns aren’t the only people who live in society. There is another group: the ones who are create the new culture. Their numbers are swelling as the moderns abandon ship, realizing that the system is corrupt, broken and leading to disaster.
Despite the grim science and the awful politics, there is a progressive movement. But it is disjointed, disorganized and ineffective at stemming the ecological crisis. Fortunately, with a one little trick, this problem can be fixed.
Consider this phenomena:
The point that I am trying to make is that if everyone who is progressive about something, becomes progressive about everything, then the system will shift – overnight.
The diagram below shows some of the key ideas that are rapidly changing our culture. The more of them we support, the more of the time, the better is the chance that we will still be here a super-Supermoon comes around.
Read sustainability in fiction by Guy Lane, the author of this blog.