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



































ISAF Sailing World Championships - Watch medal races live here by Dan Ibsen, Sail-World Europe & UK editor,








470 Men and Women Worlds - Vadlau and Ogar into pole position by 470 International Association Class,




ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Strong competition for RS:X fleets by Olga Maslivets, International RS:X Class Assoc.,




















Volvo Ocean Race: Win a stopover trip by designing an ECsix T-Shirt
Red Bull 49erFX: On the eve of the Worlds in Santander
America's Cup: Ben Ainslie Racing launches partnership with Yamaha
2014 Chicago Match Cup - Starts tomorrow
Rio 2016 Daylight the issue for Olympic sailing regatta
ISAF Sailing World Championships - USA 470's and Lasers battle at top
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Santander - Day 5 video highlights
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Santander images by Jesús Renedo
PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup - No action on day 2
470 Men and Women Worlds - Game on for Olympic Qualification
ISAF Sailing World Championships: Finns off to slow start in Santander
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Seesaw Day 5 in Santander + Video
ISAF Sailing World Championships - 470 sailors shine in Santander
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - Kiwi Ray Davies returns to TP52 fleet
Starboard Hatteras Wave Jam - No windsurfing action on day 1
A complete recap of the most successful Melges 20 World Championship
Rolex Big Boat Series - Prizegiving images by Chuck Lantz
ISAF Santander - Upwards path for Austrian women's 470 crew + video
18ft skiffs: Carnage compilation from the glory days of the Grand Prix
ISAF Worlds: Video from the British Sailing Team
Bart's Bash expected to set new records this weekend   
PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup - Marcilio Browne wins Super Session   
470 Men and Women World Championships - Racing abandoned on day 2   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Day 4 images from Santander   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander: Emerging Nations Program sailors shine   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Teasing winds play havoc on day 4   
ISAF Sailing World Championships: Hot conditions in Santander on day 4   
Santander ISAF Sailing World Championships joins Bart’s Bash   
PWA Cold Hawaii World Cup - Grounded fishing boat creates problems   
Marseille One Design - GC32 Armin Strom Sailing Team emerge victorious   
Rolex Big Boat Series 2014 - Ready for another 50 years   
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Farr 40 Day 4   
2014 Rolex Swan Cup - Eleventh-hour victories   
Extreme Sailing Series - Kiwis clinch Act win in Istanbul + Video   
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Two long races today for the J70 fleet   
2014 Rolex Big Boat Series - Impressive to sail out of the Golden Gate   
Extreme Sailing Series - Istanbul delivers four days of great racing   
ISAF Sailing Worlds Santander - Day 3 images by Sail-World.com   
Extreme Sailing Series: Emirates Team NZ bounces back for series win   
Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds - Light winds and current test six classes   


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