These are points beyond which damage to the Earth cannot be recovered or not readily or completely.
Refreshing in that it tackles aspects of human impacts other than climate change and imbued with a sense of urgency for action offers potential ways forward whilst acknowledging that the majority of people will not be persuaded by belt tightening and self s An holistic view of the impact of humans on the environment based on the planetary boundaries proposed by a group of environmental scientists. Refreshing in that it tackles aspects of human impacts other than climate change and imbued with a sense of urgency for action offers potential ways forward whilst acknowledging that the majority of people will not be persuaded by belt tightening and self sacrifice - any solution needs to accommodate human behaviour.
Not always convinced by the depth of research and accuracy, nor that the potential ways forward have been fully thought through but altogether a good overview.
Aug 17, Eric Roston added it. A terrifically informative and insightful expansion on a key study from the past few years. Jul 24, Karl-Friedrich Lenz rated it it was amazing Shelves: Okay, this is going to be a long review, since I will collect almost all of my blog posts on this book I did last year on Lenz Blog. While I plan to discuss it here once I get it on my Kindle, it might be fun to briefly note a couple of thoughts going through my head when reading just that title. It is obviously true that othe Okay, this is going to be a long review, since I will collect almost all of my blog posts on this book I did last year on Lenz Blog.
That might be somewhat more controversial. Many religions would probably object to the idea that humans are gods themselves. However, as I have remarked in a book I wrote 10 years ago, humans are clearly evolving much faster than any other species. Evolution takes thousands of generations to achieve any changes. Humans can acquire new capabilities in a remarkable short time frame, especially in the last couple of hundred years.
That gives humans the ability to create and change their environment as well as themselves in a more profound way than any other species. That is a god-like quality. I leave it to the reader to decide if that is enough to call humans gods. Unfortunately, while humans have great powers to change things, not all of these changes are thought through and sustainable in the long run.
With great power comes great responsibility. There is quite some room for doubt if humans have been up to the challenge. I am looking forward to discuss this in more detail once I get my copy next week. Update July ; In the meantime, I have retired from pro-nuclear advocacy, since I think the fans of nuclear are damaging the climate by trying to slow down development of renewable energy.
The god species 3 , published July 6, While I am waiting for the release of the latest book by Mark Lynas scheduled for tomorrow, I will write a couple of lines discussing an article he published a couple of days ago about nuclear energy, where he is critical of fossil greens. It is true that there has been not one person dead or even seriously harmed from radiation, which is quite remarkable under the circumstances. However, as I noted the other day, Yomiuri now estimates about 50 deaths from the evacuations that forced elderly citizens to live without beds in a gymnasium.
One could argue that these deaths are at least indirectly caused by the Fukushima accident. However, they are also caused by the irresponsible fear crowd. If the German government had had its way, all of Tokyo would have been evacuated. I am quite sure that would have cost much more than 50 lives. The hysteric overreactions to the accident did not only lead to the completely irrational and unnecessary German nuclear shutdown, but at the same time also contributed to the stress and anxiety of people already hit by a massive tsunami. We would also have much safer nuclear power plants, since opposition to new projects would not have derailed the technical progress seen in other fields of technology.
If there was no anti-nuclear movement, Fukushima One might have been replaced ten years ago by a state-of-the-art Thorium reactor or fast breeder with absolutely fail-safe passive safety designs that rely only on gravity. And the spent fuel would not be stored in a makeshift pool right next to the power plant, but some central storage facility somewhere.
Again, as mentioned above, I have changed my pro-nuclear point of view since last summer. This post will start with the first two chapters. I mainly agree with the idea in the introduction and the first chapter. Humans have been very successful and are now in charge of the planet. With that comes responsibility. We need to be good gods.
On the other hand, chapter 2 about biodiversity has not convinced me. For starters, this is definitely not the most urgent item on the agenda. Once Venus syndrome kicks in, we can forget about the minor issue of biodiversity, since all life on the planet will be wiped out anyway. Global warming is the far more important problem.
I am not convinced that extinction of species as such is bad. For one, there are some forms of life the extinction of which is actually a cause for celebration. Smallpox and rinderpest have been eradicated, and polio is on the target list. The theory that biodiversity is necessary to have a functioning ecosystem has merit. However, unlike global warming, it is very difficult to point to one particular tipping point. One might also mention that man has built new species. Not only in the recent experiment of actually creating life Lynas starts his book with, but with breeding efforts over a long time.
Dogs were once wolves, and they have evolved since in many new forms. Genetical engineering is a faster way of breeding and another way in which humans actually add to the number of species. While I am not convinced that this is really the most pressing problem now, I agree that a solution would be desirable. The idea Lynas puts forward of putting a price on biodiversity does not seem to be a working system yet. I prefer the much more concrete proposals in Lester R.
As mentioned before, the Fukushima accident would be a good opportunity to just dump a lot of low-level radioactive water in the sea and then use the hysterical irrational fear of radiation to declare a large area around the site completely off limits for fishers. Just like the Chernobyl exclusion zone has been wildly successful as an involuntary natural park, the same benefit could be achieved here. Since I have some interest in European Union law, I might also mention that the problem of biodiversity is a topic of interest to European Union policy, as a simple search in the EUR-Lex database shows.
It might be of interest to discuss what current European Union legislation and policy programs on the question say. Most of the things Lynas says there are exactly right, and not news to me. Before doing so, I will however cite one sentence. If so, why start the book out with biodiversity rather than the most important question? At footnote 46, Lynas reports that there was a temperature rise in Greenland If so, that would rather change the idea that there necessarily will be decades or centuries to deal with climate change.
That after mentioning that France has the lowest per capita emissions in the industrialised world because of their near 80 percent use of nuclear power. There is an interesting problem here. I have searched a bit and came up with Those exports are going to increase this year, since Germany has doubled imports from France after shutting down its own perfectly safe nuclear plants.
In that year all thermal electricity generation in France was at only That of course means that if France were not powering Germany and the UK, it could scrap thermal power completely. Or that in comparison to the electricity actually consumed in France the generation percentage of nuclear and renewable energy is already over percent.
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Lynas discusses energy from the desert at footnotes 64 and following. There he says that one of the best places for this concept would be Australia.
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There are several interesting strategic advantages compared to the Sahara or the Gobi deserts. For one, generation and consumption would all be done in one stable industrialised country. No headaches from political instability like in North Africa right now or from having to pull your power line from Mongolia through Chinese territory to reach Japan. The second advantage is that distances could be much shorter. A look at a map of the existing electric grid in Australia shows that it already extends a fair distance into the continent from Port Augusta, making the remaining distance to the central desert areas rather shorter compared to the distance from North Africa to Germany or the Gobi to Japan.
One added benefit is that Australia right now takes over 90 percent of electricity from thermal generation. That means that energy from the desert would displace dirty energy most of it coal. The United Kingdom Amazon page now shows an error message: In the meantime, you may still find this product available from other sellers on this page.
However, it is rather strange that Amazon would take such a measure based on the complaint of one 1 costumer.
The God Species
Does that mean I can temporarily take down some climate change denial book, if I were inclined to do so? Which of course I am not, since I know that this would only help sales. The book is still available as a paperless Kindle edition, which should be the edition of choice anyway because it saves on paper and energy required for printing and shipping.
It is also very different from CO2 in that without massive use of nitrogen there would be no way to meet the needs of feeding 6. The most interesting fact is the game changing impact of the Haber-Bosch process invention. Without that, population would never have reached close to 7 billion. We need some more game changing innovations to avoid global meltdown.
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Unfortunately, there is no guarantee for that to happen. This post will discuss chapter five about land use. First, things I agree with. Obviously, one advantage of nuclear in comparison to solar or wind is that fact that it uses much less space. That is true when only counting the actual plant site. But it would probably still be true if one designated a 30 kilometer evacuation zone around each nuclear plant like after the Fukushima accident even before anything happens.
That would have the added benefit of working as a national park, giving wildlife some place to develop without getting disturbed by humans. And even if there was a choice between large-scale energy from the desert and preserving a couple of species, I think the stakes are too high to give biodiversity a priority. The luxury of keeping all the species might be defensible if we were really all powerful gods. We have to choose our goals. Again, the climate boundary is the most important of them all. It needs to trump everything else, especially the mostly sentimental biodiversity boundary.
With wind energy, I recognize the need to keep damage to birds and bats as low as possible. But again, if I have to choose between conserving a species of eagles already almost extinct anyway and increasing our chances of avoiding four degrees or more of heat, my choice is not the sentimental one. There should be some research in proper technology to make birds avoid flying in the turbines.
Have some radar surveillance and some warning sound system, some nets mounted before the turbines, or whatever else might work. This post will discuss one point made in chapter six water. Lynas remarks that desalination will become more important with global meltdown, since one of the consequences is that large parts of the planet become more arid.
In places with access to the sea desalination will be necessary. That requires a lot of energy. However, as Lynas remarks, there is no need for that energy to be available continuously. Desalination is a perfect application for wind and solar energy that is intermittent. Desalinate your water when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining. In other words, not only is hydrogen a potential way of storing energy. Water is as well. On the other hand, this will not work well in the Gobi desert, which is much too far away from any source of salt water.
I have two more posts on "The god species" on my blog, but I have managed to run out of space here. So for the last two posts, a link will have to do: The god species 13 http: Aug 28, Sevket Akyildiz rated it liked it. Fifty per cent or more is very readable science and policy based discussion with rational observations made by the author about the potential boundaries or tipping points covering humankind's impact on the natural world with each boundary given a separate chapter: Lynas writes 'Based on the pioneering work of the 29 scientists making up the planetary boundaries expert group, this book has made the case that the Earth system has inherent ecological limits within it This general coverage of the boundaries is very good indeed, concise and touches upon all those themes and issues one hears about in the news but perhaps does not really fully understand.
Lynas explains the tipping points expertly and clearly. But the other fifty per cent of the book or less is argument and recommendations based upon the author's current views of how we might survive best on earth.
Lynas discusses possible solutions to the tipping points noted above. Some are logical and do-able, for example, his idea that ' Other recommendations are more challenging, for instance, he supports plant biotechnology: Lynas is indeed a plausible and knowledgeable writer but you need to make up your own mind about some of his recommendations. The argument of the book is complex, yet, I feel that Lynas is looking at mainstream society and the dominant liberal-capitalist model and trying to accommodate these as best possible with the boundaries of the ecosystem and vice versa: Jun 05, Emerson Lima rated it really liked it Shelves: Muito se fala dos problemas que os seres humanos causam ao meio ambiente.
Neste livro, somos confrontados com o outro lado: A very informative and well presented book about the various boundaries c02, acification of the ocean, land use, species loss Mar 14, Megan Blood rated it it was ok Shelves: Just a few thoughts as I go along: For every answer, we open a hundred questions. Which is why it gets irritating to read about thing like evolution and global warming like they're settled in stone. No idea how that would work in reality like there's a market for squirrels that could give us a legitimate price--it would probably end up being mandated by the government, which is never a good idea.
Heard it all before. I think I may be in love. Get it to that point and then we'll talk. How about just letting people decide for themselves? Bombard them with advertisements and guilt-trips all you want, but don't assume the government knows what's best for each individual. If people want fuel efficient cars, they will buy them and they do--hello, Prius C.
But I would like to retain the right to go purchase a gas-guzzling Hummer for myself, should I ever want to waste that much money. But by "politics" I mean bottom up the people changing their opinions and then electing people who represent those opinions , rather than top down elected officials deciding that they know best and will guide the rest of us into the light.
Let's have an honest debate about the best ways to accomplish things. Okay, I just couldn't finish this. He gets 2 stars--one for nuclear power and one for promoting genetically modified food as a "green" technology. But he falls into the common trap of believing that we actually understand the complexity of the environment enough to be able to do anything about it. I'm sorry, but any scientist worth his labcoat knows that this is, at best, an indicator that the earth's environment is very complex and that we don't understand how or why certain things affect other things.
What it is NOT is an "answer". My guess is that it's just his interpretation as a writer, but when you start telling readers that there are "answers" from "scientists", you lose me. Even with all our brilliant scientists, we still know very, very little about very, very little. So don't tell me what the "answers" are when in 10 years the "answers" will have changed completely. Feb 10, Michael Berman rated it really liked it Shelves: This is a very provocative analysis of the current environmental issues facing the earth.
Starting from the assumption that mankind has the power to remake the face of the planet as we have been doing unintentionally since the first time we burned a savannah , the author looks at how we can avoid crossing, or in some cases, revert back below, certain planetary boundaries. The boundaries--which cover things such as the maximum amount of CO2 in the environment, the maximum sustainable loss of spe This is a very provocative analysis of the current environmental issues facing the earth. The boundaries--which cover things such as the maximum amount of CO2 in the environment, the maximum sustainable loss of species, the maximum rate of ocean acidification, among others--were set by a working group of scientists.
The prescriptions in this book will anger some environmentalists, in spite of the author's sterling environmental credentials. For example, he has no patience with those who would oppose nuclear power, noting that even the worst nuclear power accidents are so much more benign to the planet than our continual use of fossil fuels. He is also a reluctant supporter of genetically-engineered food, stating that his former aversion to it was as scientifically invalid as is the current view of climate change deniers.
My only complaint with the book is that within some of his chapters, each of which is ostensibly about a specific planetary boundary, he can tend to digress into ultimate conclusions that might have been better in the last chapter. I'm also not sure that I agree with all of his conclusions, since I'm no expert, but I certainly do agree with his basic thrust: Apr 14, Radiantflux rated it liked it Shelves: This is a good evidence based attempt to explore various natural boundaries global warming; species loss; ocean acidification; etc that we as a species we as a species can't cross if we hope to maintain a livable global environment.
There are a lots and lots of interesting ideas here. He takes strong aim at environmental groups for being too ideological anti-GM and anti-nuclear based on belief not facts , which I sympathetic too; though both issues need a much more through 20th book for He takes strong aim at environmental groups for being too ideological anti-GM and anti-nuclear based on belief not facts , which I sympathetic too; though both issues need a much more through and nuanced discussion than the brief talking points given in this book. Or that nuclear power really is so benign as he says.
However, his strong faith on the markets ability to fix many problems e. This is particularly obvious when he clearly states that economic growth can continue indefinitely while respecting the planetary boundaries he lists. This is pure ideology. Overall there is a sense that this book simplifies and selectively presents evidence that supports his World view i.
This is definitely worth a read, so long as you keep in mind that frame the author uses to frame his "evidence-based" approach. Jan 05, Jan Denn rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is one of the best environmentalist books I've reads so far--clear, comprehensive, provocative, realistic. The God Species incorporates not only ecology but also politics and economics in the environmental-protection arena.
His work does not advocate the antitechnological or the "we are morally obligated to protect nature" creed proposed by many Greens. Instead, he uses scientific, historical, a "Ecological limits are real, economic limits are not. Instead, he uses scientific, historical, and statistical figures and inferences on how we can and why we should experience economic growth without crossing the line.
The book presents certain boundaries, or thresholds, that should be kept in check if we want to experience prosperity while living in harmony with our nonhuman friends. I was personally pleased to read about his views on nuclear technology and genetic engineering and particularly enlightened by his writings on ocean acidification and nitrogen use. As a pessimist myself, I enjoyed how Lynas expresses his views in such a positive way that it tells the reader that there is still a BIG hope for the Earth's future. The world--and our children--deserve better.
Global environmental problems are soluble. Let us go forward and solve them. Lynas, and even if I disagree with some of your compromising views, your writing style redeems the single star I was not supposed to give. Not one of the most enjoyable books I've read recently, but certainly one of the most important. I consider it essential reading for anyone who cares about the environment. Be forewarned that Lynas spares no sacred cows in his evidence-based assessment of the problems caused by human influence on Earth, and the solutions.
Worried about global warming? Advocate for nuclear power. Concerned about fertilizer run-off? Start eating GMO crops. Its all down to one man in particular: And who is working for whom? Whatever the outcome, our planet will never be the same again This is Simon Holders first novel. He has spent most of his life working in TV as a scriptwriter and director. His interests include classical music and opera - especially Berlioz - architecture, rugby union, The Strawbs, theatre, cinema, and the English language; his concerns for the environment are reflected in this novel.