sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Humanity may be able to avert major environmental catastrophes
Humanity may be able to avert major environmental catastrophes

Humanity might be able to avert major environmental catastrophes that now loom if it learns to make better use of ‘borrowed time’, an eminent marine biologist will tell the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra tomorrow.

'There is mounting evidence that we have already passed or may soon pass several critical boundaries affecting life on Earth, as well as our own future wellbeing,' the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, Professor Terry Hughes, says.

Prof Hughes’ comments come as government leaders from around the world gather in Doha for the United Nation’s Climate Conference (Nov 26-Dec7) to try to impart new momentum to stalled efforts to prevent 4-6 degrees of global warming.

He is lead author of a new paper by an international scientific team in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE) which argues that while more and more of the planet’s environments are approaching major regime shifts – or points of no-return – there may still be time to save them.

The pressure of human activities and demands on the planet’s resources is shifting many of its familiar ecosystems to unfamiliar states, often much less productive and less able to support ourselves and other life, Prof. Hughes explains. These are known as ‘tipping points’ or regime changes.

'For example, there are signs the Arctic will soon shift to an ice-free condition in summer, which is a profound change, occurring just in our lifetime. In the Amazon Basin, clearing of jungle could move the whole region to a much drier state. Both of these changes affect human livelihoods as well as wildlife.

'In coral reefs, too, we see the impact of bleaching and other human pressures causing a shift from a coral-dominated ecosystem to one dominated by seaweeds, in which the rich diversity of the reef is lost. This in turn directly affects hundreds of millions of humans whose livelihoods depend on coral reefs,' Prof. Hughes says.

However the scientists say the good news is that many of these profound shifts take place over quite long time periods – decades or even centuries – and this gives humanity time to act wisely to prevent irreversible and dangerous damage from occurring.

'In effect we are living dangerously, on borrowed time – and we need to learn how to take early action to prevent ecosystems from approaching a tipping point,' he says.

The researchers say that when the decline in an ecosystem is sudden and dramatic, this often prompts society to take action.

Of greater concern is where the ecosystem degrades steadily over years or even generations before flipping into a new, unproductive state. It is human nature that we often fail to notice this gradual change.

'The human imagination is poorly equipped for dealing with distant future events that contemporary generations unconsciously discount,' the researchers say.

For example, 'it is hard enough to reach a societal consensus that anthropogenic climate change is real today – let alone to convince people of the longer-term threat (from current greenhouse gas emissions) of acidification in the deep ocean in 500–2000 years from now,' they add.

Today it appears 'that human activities are already slowly pushing many ecological and Earth systems closer to regional- and planetary-scale thresholds' – adding that it is possible some of these have already been crossed.

'Nevertheless, delayed responses displayed by slow systems might provide an important window of opportunity to navigate to a safer state,' they conclude.

'The most important slow regime-shift is a social one: convincing enough people to move away from ‘business-as-usual’ thinking before time runs out,' Professor Hughes says. 'Today this is a challenge for governments, managers, scientists and society alike, all over the world.'

He will present his paper to the Second Australian Earth System Outlook Conference, hosted by the AAS in the Shine Dome, Canberra, Nov 26-27, at 9.50 am tomorrow, as part of the session dealing with tipping points affecting Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

The article 'Living dangerously on borrowed time during slow, unrecognized regime shifts' by Terry P. Hughes, Cristina Linares, Vasilis Dakos, Ingrid A. van de Leemput and Egbert H Van Nes, appears in the online journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE).

http://www.coralcoe.org.au/


by ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=104168

8:34 PM Mon 26 Nov 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







News - USA and the World

America's Cup: Challenger calls Competitor Meeting ahead of deadline *Feature by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz,


































































Formula Windsurfing Youth and Master Worlds overall
49er and 49erFX Europeans: Pitfalls aplenty on day 1 + Video
ISAF Youth Worlds - Laser Radial sailors look to join list of legends
Coville soon to chase solo circumnavigation record in giant trimaran
Fierce competition at the Meanline Fins Slalom Challenge
Volvo Ocean Race - Team Brunel opt for experienced winner
Bakewell-White supermaxi designed to take Transpac's Barn Door Trophy *Feature
Crew rescued by navy patrol from J/111 racer after Mayday in storm
Team Alvimedica practice in Newport, RI - Photos
18 foot skiff European Championship (Open Europeans) - Final results
Nacra 17 European Championships - No action on day 1
ISAF Youth Worlds - 29er and SL16 sailors prepare for battle + Video
Volvo Ocean Race: Eight new crew members named by teams
Volvo Ocean Race: New additions to Spanish team announced
2014 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek - Phuket Island is ready to host
PWA Awaza World Cup - Cyril Moussilmani and Delphine Cousin on top
Foiling Week - Moth Class Italian Open Championship Day 2
America's Cup: Luna Rossa foiling in AC45s at their Italian base
Star World Championship - Germans claim dramatic win in Malcesine
PWA Awaza World Cup - Down to the wire in Turkmenistan
Route Halifax Saint-Pierre - Off to France!   
Nacra 17 Europeans - La Grande Motte back in Olympic classes arena   
Stena Match Cup Sweden - Hansen hat trick in Marstrand + Video   
Route Halifax Saint-Pierre Race keeps an eye on Arthur   
World Match Racing Tour: See the Finals replay at the Stena Match Cup   
Newport International Boat Show unveils exciting 'At The Helm' Program   
Stena Match Cup Sweden - First blood to Hansen over Canfield + Video   
Star World Championship - Americans claim race win in Malcesine   
PWA Awaza World Cup - Weather halts action on day 4   
Clipper Race - Henri Lloyd wins OneDLL Cup into Den Helder   
Clipper Race - Close match racing in closing stages of the OneDLL Cup   
Volvo Ocean Race: Spanish play catch-up with under 100 days to go   
World Match Racing Tour: Catch the live action at the Stena Match Cup   
Finn Junior Worlds - Battle for the Jorge Bruder Silver Cup   
Mobiles drive traffic - 72% increase in Sail-World.com page view *Feature   
British Open Dragon Championship finale at Royal Lymington preview   
2014 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek - Phuket is ready to host   
PWA Awaza World Cup - Valerie Ghibaudo hits back on day 3   
Star World Championship - Hard fought win on day 4 + Video   
Stena Match Cup Sweden - Action-packed match racing + Video   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT