Our geological community says we are in the Anthropocene era, an era dominated by the impact of human activity on our world. Observations from our scientific community are that we are at a tipping point in the geological evolution of our world. And since we are part of our world, and dependent on our world for our life, our well-being, and our future, a tipping point in the evolution of our world is a turning point in our human journey.
Burning coal, oil and natural gas to heat our homes, power our cars, and illuminate our cities produces carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as by-products. Deforestation and clearing of land for agriculture also release significant quantities of such gases.
Over the last century, we have been emitting greenhouse gases to the atmosphere faster than natural processes can remove them. During this time atmospheric levels of these gases have climbed steadily and are projected to continue their steep ascent as global economies grow.
Warming of this magnitude will affect many aspects of our lives as it changes temperature and precipitation patterns, induces sea level rise, and alters the distribution of fresh water supplies. The impacts on our health, the vitality of forests and other natural areas, and the productivity of agriculture are all likely to be significant.
I don’t see better communication, on its own, being remotely sufficient to set the world on a course to shift swiftly from the fuels of convenience — coal and oil — even as human numbers and resource appetites crest.