Jack, one quick way to go about getting rid of the prime culprits is a universal, permanent strike of all garbage collection. Those who consume the most will quite quickly drown in their own trash.
Meanwhile, another scientist weighs in on the likelihood of human extinction in the not-too-distant future:
Web of life unravelling, wildlife biologist says
Wildlife biologist Neil Dawe says he wouldn't be surprised if the generation after him witnesses the extinction of humanity.
All around him, even in a place as beautiful as the Little Qualicum River estuary, his office for 30 years as a biologist for the Canadian Wildlife Service, he sees the unravelling of "the web of life."
"It's happening very quickly," he says.
A recent news report focussed on the precipitous decline of barn swallows on Vancouver Island.
That is certainly true, says Dawe, who starting in 1978 worked on the Royal BC Museum's four-volume Birds of British Columbia project, but it doesn't tell the whole story.
People will focus on the extinction of a species but not "the overall impact," he says. When habitat diversity is lost, "it changes the whole dynamic."
The loss to the food web is a loss to the web of life, he says, and people are a huge part of that web.
Indeed, it's an overabundance of people, perhaps by five-fold, which is driving resource extraction and consumption beyond a sustainable planet, he says.
"Economic growth is the biggest destroyer of the ecology," he says. "Those people who think you can have a growing economy and a healthy environment are wrong. "If we don't reduce our numbers, nature will do it for us."
He isn't hopeful humans will rise to the challenge and save themselves.
"Everything is worse and we're still doing the same things," he says. "Because ecosystems are so resilient, they don't exact immediate punishment on the stupid."
Great article. The author's mention of the importance of "habitat diversity" as crucial to the health of an ecosystem is spot on. In fact "diversity" is the single most important feature of any resilient system, no matter what the system is. The most resilient systems are highly diverse and can withstand shocks to it. Systems with low diversity are extremely fragile and minor perturbations can severely disrupt or destroy these systems.
In economics, it is common knowledge that highly diverse urban economies are more resilient than economies that are dependent on a few critical industries. Detroit is an example of how a low diversity urban economy can collapse when rapid change occurs.
Look at the environment of a healthy gut. The healthy human gut has hundreds of distinct bacteria, each critical to a healthy gut and healthy human. When a few bacteria grow to dominate this environment, the health of the gut declines rapidly as does the health of the human.
You cannot look at any system and find that a lower diversity system results in a more resilient system. The opposite is always
For most of the last 10,000 years, humans have been reducing the diversity of the bio-system. In most cases, this has been unintentional, a natural side effect of our success as a species. Some of the most dangerous reductions in diversity have been intentional and are often pointed to as technological achievements. The agricultural revolution is such an example. Industrial agriculture, in general, has focused on a very few specific types of grains, cattle, poultry etc. and have virtually ignored the variety of these species that form the genetic diversity needed to support the very existence of the species. This deliberate selection has already weakened these foodstuffs which now require enormous amounts of pesticides, herbicides and/or antibiotics to ensure a healthy output. Anyone who has an organic garden (I have been gardening for years without any herbicides or pesticides with amazing results.) is well aware of how diverse such a garden is. My garden has hundreds of resident praying mantis, a carnivorous insect that eats many times its body weight in pest insects. These carnivorous insects are the first to disappear when a pesticide is used, exposing your crops to pests.
Here is the key to understanding and identifying resilient (highly diverse) systems and non-resilient (low diversity) systems:
Everything is a system embedded in ever larger systems. When looking at any distinct system, assess the diversity and evaluate its resilience within the larger system.
The human gut is a system embedded in the larger system, the human body. Individual humans are systems embedded in a variety of larger systems (familial, economic, national, etc.).
An extended family, spanning generations and linking siblings and their offspring, is a far more resilient family unit then the nuclear family.
A resilient human is one who has a highly diverse set of skills where a non-resilient human has a very narrow specialized skill. If our complex society is severely disturbed by AGW (and it will be) the resilient human's chance of survival is far higher than someone who is a specialist. That financial genius who makes a fortune on complex derivative trades is doomed. That farmer, living in rural Wisconsin, stands a far better chance of survival.