Monthly Archives: May 2015

Winter in the Anthropocene: Why snowstorms don’t disprove climate change

Sea ice packs Woods Hole harbor, surrounding the R/V Knorr in port at Woods  Hole Oceanographic Institution. Photo by Holly V. Moeller, 19 February 2015.

Sea ice packs Woods Hole harbor, surrounding the R/V Knorr in port at Woods
Hole Oceanographic Institution. Photo by Holly V. Moeller, 19 February 2015.

Holly Moeller

On Sunday afternoon, I sat at my desk working on a grant proposal while yet another snowstorm coated the trees outside my window with a fine layer of white. Late that evening, Boston’s weather commentators celebrated a dubious feat when the city broke the annual snowfall record. So far this winter, 108.6 inches of snow have fallen on Logan International Airport, beating the 1995-1996 winter’s total by one inch.

It’s been a tough winter for New England and its citizen snow shovelers. According to some estimates, the state of Massachusetts alone lost about $1 billion in wages and revenue as storms shut down transportation and businesses. Airlines flying in and out of the region cancelled hundreds of flights, stranding thousands of passengers. And the New England Patriots had to wait out a blizzard before they could enjoy their Super Bowl victory parade.

Meanwhile, having just moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in January, I was building up a back and shoulders that had grown tan and lazy after four years of easy living in California, while cringing at the political commentators who were using my snowdrifts to deny the existence of climate change. Read the rest of this entry

A Food and Breathing Problem

Images Courtesy of Dr. John Mew

Images Courtesy of Dr. John Mew

Sandra Kahn and Paul Ehrlich

Much attention is now rightly being given to producing enough food to nourish the some 9.5 billion people expected to be on Earth by 2050.[1] And people are raising critical questions about the influence of increasing loads of toxins in our foods, and their possible effects on us and (more importantly?) our children.[2] But there is one aspect of the nutritional-health situation that has not had sufficient exposure. It is rooted in one impact of the evolution of speech perhaps 40,000 years ago in what Jared Diamond famously described as our “great leap forward,” and one of the agricultural revolution some 10,000 years ago – ancient history with modern consequences. Read the rest of this entry

Why ‘Population Matters’

Aminaa and FP client explaining contraceptive pills via Pathfinder International

Aminaa and FP client explaining contraceptive pills via Pathfinder International

Contributions from Richard Grossman and Roger Martin

What is nearest and dearest to your heart: is it animal rights and concern about the extinction of so many species? Do you stay up at night worrying about human rights and reproductive justice? Do you get hot around the collar when you think about climate change? Or is it pollution and toxification of our environment? For each of these issues, one thing is undeniable. Population matters. Read the rest of this entry

Solving the Human Predicament

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Courtesy of Getty Images.

Gerald Addy

Fixed human behaviour tendencies have blocked action toward a sustainable future. Despite over 50 years of effort by scientists and environmentalists, the future of the human endeavour can no longer be taken for granted. This is due primarily to our nature. We have failed to realize our own behaviour patterns are the root cause of our predicament and have mistakenly believed that mountains of evidence would make the difference. For decades scientists have produced evidence describing the serious environmental threats we face. Their work has failed to ignite a significant public response because our message has not been delivered in a manner that addresses the drivers of human behaviour.   We now understand humans are confronted with subconscious behaviour tendencies that served us well at an earlier period, but still remain in our incomplete evolutionary development. At our present stage of intellectual development, lingering malignant social constructs, especially capitalism and economic growth, impede our ability to move forward on environmental issues. Read the rest of this entry

You can help in the fight for a SUSTAINABLE future!

Visit the UTS donations page and help Sustainability Central continue its work, headed by Co-Founders Dr Paul R. Ehrlich and Professor Graham Pyke.

With almost a century of environmental research and activism between them, their focus turns to building capacity in all of us to continue the fight for a sustainable planet. Who are the sustainability leaders of the future, and how can we support them in communicating a transdisciplinary approach to the science of sustainability.

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