In what will be a surprise to absolutely no one, an interdisciplinary group of 22 scientists, combining paleontological evidence with ecological modeling, has concluded that the earth appears headed toward catastrophic and irreversible environmental changes. Their findings were published in Nature. A story reporting on their work is pasted below.
June 6, 2012
Earth Is Headed for Disaster, Interdisciplinary Team of Scientists Concludes
By Paul Basken
An interdisciplinary group of 22 scientists, combining paleontological evidence with ecological modeling, has concluded that the earth appears headed toward catastrophic and irreversible environmental changes.
Their report, in the June 7 issue of the journal Nature, describes an exponentially increasing rate of species extinctions, extreme climate fluctuations, and other threats that together risk a level of upheaval not seen since the large-scale extinctions 65 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs.
The lead author of the report is Anthony D. Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California at Berkeley, which coordinated the work in an 18-month project that inaugurated the university’s Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology.
The report’s conclusions center on a measure of the amount of the earth’s land surface that has been transformed by people, from forests and prairies to uses such as cornfields and parking lots. The percentage of transformed land now stands at 43 percent, with the world’s population at seven billion.
The scientists contributing to the report have calculated the various forms of damage that will be seen when the usage level exceeds 50 percent, as is expected around 2025, when the population reaches eight billion, Mr. Barnosky said. The scientists making those estimates include biologists, ecologists, geologists, paleontologists, and complex-systems theoreticians in the United States, Canada, South America, and Europe.
Their conclusion is that the damaging effects, when combined, appear even worse than each of the experts has seen in his or her own field, Mr. Barnosky said. “These are all driving forces that in fact are greater than what we saw in the past,” he said.
To read the full article, please click here: http://chronicle.com/article/Earth-Is-Headed-for-Disaster/132165/