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Survival of the fittest

A scientific paradigm exists that Human Beings, always place their personal survival, that of their family, community and by extension – the survival of the Homo-Sapiens species, as their foremost priority above everything else…

This is apparently true of most all other species of life as well, except for the communally suicidal lemurs being the exception, that proves the rule.

And apparently this survival instinct surpasses all other biological imperatives for the various species and for human beings in particular, because all advanced mammalian life forms when confronted by an impending threat such as a heavy winter — they invest great effort in gathering resources by collecting food & energy for hibernation or for migration.

Yet the current type of humans we observe all around us — those that we refer to as Homo Sapiens in particular, seem to be exercising a perpetual and a rather “cutting it close to the edge” procrastinator instinct.

Perhaps this is due to our innate adaptability that allows us to address outside threats by finding ways to avoid them, mitigating their effects or simply adapting to the new circumstances by being flexible enough — rather than bravely facing this existential threat head-on, in the “here and now” field of honor where we meet this present and clear danger and defeat them before they become “too big to handle”.

Also it is here where our famous adaptability as described by Charles Darwin, tricks us because we are able to constantly shift our “position” without discomfiting ourselves. We accommodate our complacency, by relying on our flexibility and thus not having to change our well established habits. Yet it is useful to remember that it is those successful traits, habits and constantly evolved practices that have given us a certain amount of control over nature and all other species, and have thus allowed our control over Nature to increase from simple winner’s arrogance into unnecessary hubris. Even within the scientific community that ought to know better — this particular era of massive loss of species has earned our own species the naming rights of the current epoch as the “AnthropoCene” era…

Lastly, we believe that we are quite able to mitigate the circumstances of our Nature and thus ensure the continuation of our existence, without cause for concern as long as we keep on going forward. And this causes us to expand our reach into the unknown, whether this is the journey of discovery through Space, or for tourist travel or the journey of withstanding the extreme weather and difficult climate conditions that bring to bear all of the unknown ecological and environmental effects.

This flexibility that defines our species and our capacity to adapt and mitigate has become quite apparent to me because our species Homo Sapiens in totality, has been faced with survived. Indeed grave challenges to our survival, well before the seemingly catastrophic climate change that could lead to our destruction was even in our radar, have been deflected.

However this threat that appears to come through the general ecological breakdown and the loss of species and habitats, is morphogenic as we seem to be going out of our way in order to obfuscate, delay, and attempt to explain away the threat as a non-existential occurrence that is attributable to long term weather patterns and natural earth cycles.

Y2K springs to mind…

Nuclear catastrophe…

Global floods…

Plagues…

Depressions…

Recessions…

Pandemics…

The sun going dark…

The breakdown of Society and Social order…

Chaos and Terrorism…

All of the above have been touted as the end of the world as we know it — but here we are.

Somehow all the crying “wolf” that has preceded this grave existential threat of environmental disaster, has immunized all of us against the very actions that are needed to resolve this crisis…

And thus in the instance of climate change, we fail to act decisively to address the threat because we have lumped it all together as an improbable event in the category of the above threats.

This inaction is indeed compromising our continued survival as a species, because we manage to convince ourselves that Climate change and Ecological catastrophe is not such a serious, or even that it isn’t happening.

Maybe the median Common Intelligence of the totality of our species is acting out…

Yet we are also fast becoming aware of our fragility and natural failures as the current pandemic has opened up all sorts of Pandora’s boxes that speak volumes for our continued survival or lack thereof…

And it is at this very moment of introspection, re-evaluation, and re-assessment that some of us are doubling down on the potential for total ecological destruction, by increasing those high level emissions either through space tourism, or through flying private jets to seemingly benign climate conferences like COP-26 in Glasgow just now.

And when the average citizen sees the hoi-polloi of our so-called leaders, being double faced about this important issue — it is no wonder that our rates of consumption have increased exponentially, and we all are swapping our ordinary cars for extra large SUVs, we are jet setting to long-haul weekend holiday flights, and using fossil fuels as if we are bent on “burning it all up” in a final frenzied party, like Glascow’s Climate Change conference in 2021.

This was a Conference of the Parties and the Partiers … but not a real Climate conference that addressed anything of note seriously as seen by the huge “whistleblowers’ leak” of official government and global multinational company documents showing how countries are trying to change a crucial scientific report on how to tackle climate change.

The leak reveals Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are among countries asking the UN to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels, and it also shows how some wealthy nations are questioning the wisdom of giving support to poorer states to move to greener technologies.

This pressure “lobbying” practice targeting the IPCC scientists and their reporting on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, raises grave questions for the COP26 climate summit in November.

The leak reveals countries pushing back on UN recommendations for action and comes just days before they will be asked at the summit to make significant commitments to slow down climate change and keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The leaked documents consist of more than 32,000 submissions made by governments, companies and other interested parties to the team of scientists compiling a UN report designed to bring together the best scientific evidence on how to tackle climate change.

Maybe, we are doing all that because in the back of our minds, there’s a voice whispering, “If it were really so serious, someone would have stopped us.”

And who can blame us when all we see from our leaders is a certain amount of lip service to the “cause of Environmental Responsibility” whereas their behavior speaks otherwise. For God’s sake we are still subsidizing oil exploration and production at the same time that are still building massively polluting coal powered electricity generation plants.

So, it follows that if we attend to the important issues of Climate and the Environment at all — we do so in ways that are ill-matched to the scale of our predicament.

Naturally — knowing what we now know, it’s small wonder that we find it impossible to discern in our lack of response, the primacy of our survival instinct.

Yours,

Dr Churchill

PS:

Here is what we know. We know that our lives are entirely dependent on complex natural systems: the atmosphere, ocean currents, the soil, the planet’s webs of life. People who study complex systems have discovered that they behave in consistent ways. It doesn’t matter whether the system is a banking network, a nation state, a rainforest or an Antarctic ice shelf; its behaviour follows certain mathematical rules. In normal conditions, the system regulates itself, maintaining a state of equilibrium. It can absorb stress up to a certain point. But then it suddenly flips. It passes a tipping point, then falls into a new state of equilibrium, which is often impossible to reverse.

Human civilisation relies on current equilibrium states. But, all over the world, crucial systems appear to be approaching their tipping points. If one system crashes, it is likely to drag others down, triggering a cascade of chaos known as systemic environmental collapse. This is what happened during previous mass extinctions.

Here’s one of the many ways in which it could occur. A belt of savannah, known as the Cerrado, covers central Brazil. Its vegetation depends on dew forming, which depends in turn on deep-rooted trees drawing up groundwater, then releasing it into the air through their leaves. But over the past few years, vast tracts of the Cerrado have been cleared to plant crops – mostly soya to feed the world’s chickens and pigs. As the trees are felled, the air becomes drier. This means smaller plants die, ensuring that even less water is circulated. In combination with global heating, some scientists warn, this vicious cycle could – soon and suddenly – flip the entire system into desert.

The Cerrado is the source of some of South America’s great rivers, including those flowing north into the Amazon basin. As less water feeds the rivers, this could exacerbate the stress afflicting the rainforests. They are being hammered by a deadly combination of clearing, burning and heating, and are already threatened with possible systemic collapse. The Cerrado and the rainforest both create “rivers in the sky” – streams of wet air – that distribute rainfall around the world and help to drive global circulation: the movement of air and ocean currents.

Global circulation is already looking vulnerable. For example, the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), which delivers heat from the tropics towards the poles, is being disrupted by the melting of Arctic ice, and has begun to weaken. Without it, the UK would have a climate similar to Siberia’s.

AMOC has two equilibrium states: on and off. It has been on for almost 12,000 years, following a devastating, thousand-year off state called the Younger Dryas (12,900 to 11,700 years ago), which caused a global spiral of environmental change. Everything we know and love depends on AMOC remaining in the on state.

Regardless of which complex system is being studied, there’s a way of telling whether it is approaching a tipping point. Its outputs begin to flicker. The closer to its critical threshold it comes, the wilder the fluctuations. What we’ve seen this year is a great global flickering, as Earth systems begin to break down. The heat domes over the western seaboard of North America; the massive fires there, in Siberia and around the Mediterranean; the lethal floods in Germany, Belgium, China, Sierra Leone – these are the signals that, in this “Changing Climate” era, spell “Mayday”.

You might expect our intelligent species to respond to these signals swiftly and conclusively, by radically altering its relationship with the living world.

But this is not how we function today despite all of the warning signals — we plow right ahead..

Seems to me that our great intelligence, our highly evolved consciousness and our flexible nature that once took us so far — now works against us.

So long Glascow…

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