Scientists at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, say that we have taken our planet on the track of "irreversible collapse". The point of no return may be reached this century, they say. The measures of preventing a scenario they compare to the event of the extinction of the dinosaurs, are about as likely to be implemented as oil drilling to stop tomorrow.
If your life revolves around sustainability, this research will definitely ruin your day. If you enjoy debating the existence and effects of global warning, this study will become part of your next discussion to argue the value of panic creation. According to the authors of a new paper that "used scientific theories, toy ecosystem modeling and paleontological evidence as a crystal ball", there is not much left to do to save our planet from a state-shift in Earth's biosphere. And even if we can, the proposed measures, which include an immediate "reduction" of the number of humans inhabiting Earth, may not be popular enough to be considered.
The scientists believe that a state at which a shift will occur is almost reached. "The last tipping point in Earth's history occurred about 12,000 years ago when the planet went from being in the age of glaciers, which previously lasted 100,000 years, to being in its current interglacial state," said Arne Mooers, a researcher participating in the project. "Once that tipping point was reached, the most extreme biological changes leading to our current state occurred within only 1,000 years. That's like going from a baby to an adult state in less than a year. ... Importantly, the planet is changing even faster now."
The scientists believe that once a 50 percent threshold of "wholesale transformation of Earth's surface" is reached, we will not be able to delay or avert a "planetary collapse" anymore. At this time, we stand at 43 percent, they say. "In a nutshell, humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst because the social structures for doing something just aren't there," Mooers said. "My colleagues who study climate-induced changes through the earth's history are more than pretty worried. In fact, some are terrified."
The speed at which Earth is transformed and at which its energy budget is altered is more dramatic than the conditions that took the planet from a glacial to an interglacial state 12,000 years ago," according to the researchers. The only other known comparable pace of change is "the end of the cataclysmic falling star, which ended the age of dinosaurs."
The researchers believe that a planetary shift cannot be avoided anymore. However, the impact can be delayed or minimized, if we "drastically" lower the planet's population "very quickly", if we become materially poorer, at least in the short term, and if we are able to produce and distribute food without destroying more land and species. At least these options are described by the scientists as a "very tall order" and not as impossible as the collapse of Earth.