Climate Change: Are we at a tipping point?

Question: Are we at a tipping point?

Carl Pope: Well it’s pretty clear, I think, that the big one we’ve all gotta wrestle with right away, really quickly is global warming, climate, fossil fuels, our energy economy. That simply has to be job number one because we’re close to a tipping point. I was just in Greenland and you can see the ice sheets collapsing. That’s scary. So that’s job number one. The second thing that we need to do almost as quickly is we have to learn to live more lightly, because there are six billion of us. One of the things that we’re dealing with now – never been true before in human history – not only are there 6.5 billion people on the planet. More than half of them live in societies that have mastered the trick of sustained economic growth. Now in one way that’s a very good thing. We actually have the opportunity. We now have the social . . . the social knowledge to solve human problems. But we don’t have the natural resource base to solve human poverty with 20th century technologies. We’ve got to develop a lighter set of technologies that allow natural systems to function around and with us. We can’t just say oh, nature’s something that’s out there. We have to be in the middle of nature. To give you an example, in California we’re about to have the long water war. All during the 20th century Californians had a series of battles about how to allocate water. And these battles were premised on three things. There’s a certain amount of water that falls on the mountains in the winter. It sits there as snow and melts in the spring. And then farmers, environmentalists and cities fights about who gets it. That’s a California water war. We’re about to have another one. There’s only one problem. There may . . . There may be a certain amount of water that still falls on mountains in the winter, but it’s not gonna get stored as snow. It’s all gonna run off. We can’t store it in reservoirs. There’s not nearly enough reservoir space or even potential . . . There aren’t enough big valleys left to store all the snow that currently sits on the Sierra Nevada all winter. Totally impossible. So if we wanna have that water when we need it in the summer, we have to store it somewhere else. There’s only one place to store it – underground in soils. And right now Californians don’t think of their soils as the place where they store their water. We don’t think about it right. We’re gonna have to learn how to reengineer Los Angeles so that it becomes, in effect, a sponge. Instead of being a roof which water runs off of, it needs to be a sponge which water soaks into. And we’re gonna have to learn to live, and drive our cars, and have our buildings in the middle of actually a wetland. That’s a different kind of challenge ___________.

 

Recorded on: September 27, 2007.

We have to fix it really, really fast.

Related Articles

How schizophrenia is linked to common personality type

Both schizophrenics and people with a common personality type share similar brain patterns.

(shutterstock)
Mind & Brain
  • A new study shows that people with a common personality type share brain activity with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • The study gives insight into how the brain activity associated with mental illnesses relates to brain activity in healthy individuals.
  • This finding not only improves our understanding of how the brain works but may one day be applied to treatments.
Keep reading Show less

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less