Environmental Science – the right tool for managing Earth systems

The site is being reconstructed – please forgive me as I sort out a new structure.

Environmental science is a practical, team based, multidisciplinary field that solves complex problems that have ‘wicked’ dimensions of culture, history, economics and environment.  It synergistically – the whole is greater than the parts – integrates physical and biological sciences within a real world context of society.  It provides the most flexible and comprehensive approach to designing sustainable futures, assessing and managing environmental risk and environmental planning and management.  The alternative seems to be the politics of despair.

“We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced.”   http://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252

And although I have noted snippets from some of these people over the decades – it is only in passing. It is It is mot the best of science. Tipping points are very real – but  superficial narratives of catastrophe – that has ‘gone viral’ apparently – provide no path to a bright and sustainable futurere.

“We emphasize the importance of understanding dragon-kings as being often associated with a neighborhood of what can be called equivalently a phase transition, a bifurcation, a catastrophe (in the sense of Rene Thom), or a tipping point.” Didier Sornette.

It is irreversible limits – the fundamental narratives – it is very loosely empirical science – in the genre of climate catastrophy science – the 2 degree Centigrade limit especially – that lead to catastrophic and irreversible change – tipping points – in the Earth system. There are 10 of them apparently – if we include climate.


Speaking as an environmental scientist – there is an underlying reality. But these are far from beyond the capacity of rich economies to redress – and they are being fixed.


The alternative myopia involves narratives of moribund western economies governed by corrupt corporations collapsing under the weight of internal contradictions – leading to less growth, less material consumption, less CO2 emissions, less habitat destruction and a last late chance to stay within the safe limits of global ecosystems. And this is just in the ‘scholarly’ journals. They see this as a ‘transformative moment’ in Earth history.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution. That will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change, be it COP 15, 21, 40 – you choose the number. It just does not occur like that. It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation.” UNRIC

Iriai is a Japanese word meaning to enter into the joint use of resources. There are ways to a bright future for the planet, its peoples and its wild places – but these need to be consciously designed in a broad context of economics and democracy, population, development, technical innovation, land use and the environment. There is a stark choice in which these narratives of catastrophe and economic and social transformation have no place. Which future is for you and your children? Economic collapse, civil strife, war – or prosperous and resilient communities in vibrant landscapes?