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Via Earth Policy Institute: Adapted from World on the Edge by Lester R. Brown. Full book available online at www.earth-policy.org/books/wote.
“The archeological record indicates that civilizational collapse does not come suddenly out of the blue. Archeologists analyzing earlier civilizations talk about a decline-and-collapse scenario. Economic and social collapse was almost always preceded by a period of environmental decline….
“No previous civilization has survived the ongoing destruction of its natural supports. Nor will ours. Yet economists look at the future through a different lens. Relying heavily on economic data to measure progress, they see the near 10-fold growth in the world economy since 1950 and the associated gains in living standards as the crowning achievement of our modern civilization….More….Two Views of Our Future: Science Versus Mainstream Economics : TreeHugger.
Get Ready for the Ride of Your Life
Given that it takes hundreds of thousands to millions of years for evolution to build diversity back up to pre-crash levels after major extinction episodes, increased rates of extinction are of particular concern, especially because global and regional diversity today is generally lower than it was 20,000 years ago as a result of the last planetary state shift. … Possible too are substantial losses of ecosystem services required to sustain the human population. … Although the ultimate effects of changing biodiversity and species compositions are still unknown, if critical thresholds of diminishing returns in ecosystem services were reached over large areas and at the same time global demands increased … widespread social unrest, economic instability and loss of human life could result
How close are we to such a global state shift? One way to conceptualize it is to visualize the percentage of the Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems that have seen local state shifts:
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