Thursday, October 14, 2010

Over budget and getting worse

Too much of a good thing: "In fact, no phenomenon has probably impacted the nitrogen cycle more than human inputs of nitrogen into the cycle in the last 2.5 billion years".

Another threat to coral: algal blooms, caused by excess nitrogen, found to kill large areas of coral within weeks.

Plane danger? It turns out you are more likely to die from plane exhaust than in a plane crash.

Water, water everywhere: more water flowing into the ocean due to climate change, an 18 percent increase between 1994 and 2006. Another good summary and some discussion on Skeptical Science.

Birds could signal mass extinction: "Biodiversity loss is arguably much more serious and more permanent than climate change". Which is saying something, since anthropogenic climate change is likely to redefine the planet's living systems and geography for millennia.

Loss of old growth forests continues, albeit a little more slowly: where biodiversity and climate converge (one of many places, but this is perhaps the most critical).

Economy vs ecology? Ecological damage estimated to currently cost the global economy US$6.6 trillion (with a "t") each year.

Drying up: unexpected shift in evapotranspiration across large parts of the southern hemisphere.

Finish your plate: 27% of food in the US is wasted. I assume that is not even calculating all the excess calories that are actually consumed.

A second planet by 2030: current trends in consumption are drawing down on the natural capital of the earth. We're currently about 50% over "budget".

And some good news: deadly virus eradicated in "the biggest achievement of veterinary history".


Eclipse Now said...

Check out this small illustration of Denver as sprawl converted into Denver as ecocity. Just look at the density and diversity of city planning as the sprawl collapses back into a few clusters of ecocity. And look at the surrounding countryside! Old rivers are unpaved and the soil is restored to farmland. We can do this. We can clean up the countryside, return the soil to life, and clean up our waterways.

Denver as ecocity

byron smith said...

How much energy does it take to undo a road? Is large-scale de-concretising a serious possibility? Has someone done the sums on this?

(And how much political energy does a move like this take?)

I guess I'm asking how great the distance is between reality and this vision. How many years? At what (financial and energy) cost?

byron smith said...

Grist: The dark side of nitrogen.