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What do you think?

Could human activity push Earth's biological systems to a planet-wide tipping point, causing changes as radical as the Ice Age's end -- but with less pleasant results, and with billions of people alon...
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75 comments
 
What do I think? I think it's idiocy for a magazine touting the wonders of technology to play that political brinkmanship game of global warming denialism.

Grow a pair of balls and take a stand on the side of science.
 
This isn't a question about "if", it's about when [will nature eradicate mankind], to restore balance.   
 
The earth cleans itself just like we do and it needs to be cleansed soon.
 
And, this is the answer in the article: 
'There have been big, planetary shifts before. We can see it coming. That's the difference.'

Plain and simple.
 
Does it matter? If humanity doesn't get off of the earth and into space we are doomed anyway. The earth is not a perpetual motion machine. One day the ride will stop.
 
"Let the Sun be the driving force of our progress and well-being" is the Answer !
 
This is he only post where a publicitary ad actually fits! Congrats +Dial Solar Systems you are not being flagged, you lucky! lol. It's not a bad idea to use solar power to keep the earth moving. The problem is just "how"  now :-/
 
Not really.  The oceans will fill up with life again... it will just be different life.  Trees and animals will populate the land again... they'll just be different animals.  The entire planetary eco-system will adjust itself and life will survive...

Homo-sapiens though - we're so screwed
 
<smart-ass>What point? earth is floating in space</smart-ass>
 
+Dial Solar Systems well i assumed your phrase was related to your name, but also "i saw what you did there". your tagline actually fits and it's brilliant you posted it too! well, as i said, solar power is actually what could help us a little bit more, we have to discover how. I mean, if we plan to create an engine to keep the earth aligned and moving on the axis, well... yes, we may not have the power problem (sun!) but about all the rest.. (it's a giant stupid example i know, but it makes my point i think)
 
Meh. By our standards, we're passing the point. But were we a bit smarter and less wasting of resources, we'd easily be able to at least 1.2x the population safely.
 
hum i'm not fond of petrol (moved to a new city where public transport is awesome, my car is parked in the garage and used only for emergencies... she's sleeping since 2 months now) i was just thinking about the earth stopping, and we using a solar powered engine for it :D
 
The Earth will be here long after the human species is extinct.  It's the environment that we have to concern ourselves with.  The more damage we do to the ecology the more difficult it will be to correct it.  Hey don't worry.  Global warming is only a thing of fiction created by the liberal scientist and Al Gore.  What a shame how people can ignore the obvious.
 
It's not that anyone doesn't believe the earth is getting warmer.  We are in an ice age, still, and coming out of it.

People debate over how much impact human activity is having in accelerating the warming.
 
I agree with george carlin on this topic-

Also, its funny the read the flame wars about the sky falling or not falling when we cannot even explain within 100% the relationship of time/gravity or magnetism. 

Hell we cant even predict the weather 6 months from today, let alone a year.  

Someday the core of this planet will stop generating a magnetic field, all that nice magnetic protection form solar wind will be gone, the atmosphere would start boiling off like mars.- Like to see us try and fix that one! HA!

Face it, at some point were all screwed- willing to bet we nuke ourselves off the face of the planet before any of this is a concern.
That or bio/chemical-weapons.... mmmmm stuff that makes us all feel safe at night.

Just think the more we get into nanotechnology and genetics what kind of damage we can do! :)
 
Wasn't there research into studying how the ice caps on Mars were also melting? See!? Martians also burn coal. Go Green, Green Men!
 
+D C Robbins  DAMN YOU AND YOUR LOGIC SIR!
We need you to go out and BUY more GREEN stuff!
 
+D C Robbins Wow that comment is so full of ignorance I don't think I'll even bother. Personally I gave up on climate change when nothing happened at the Copenhagen climate summit.
 
Interesting take... Also interesting to see how many follow the path of believing in the scientific inaccuracies that inspired the movie "The Core"... among others. But mostly that one.

Let's face it, the earth is not tipping because of us. There is countless factors outside of our atmosphere already, gravitational forces generated by our own solar system, for one, which in turns is influenced by more gravitational pulls from the surrounding systems and bodies. Curious about what makes everything move? Look at the center of our galaxy. A humongous black hole spinning at unthinkable speeds, twirling about countless celestial bodies.If that's not one heck of a motivator, I don't know what is.
 
+Sean Bradshaw Easy, Sean. It was a joke. If you didn't like it, fine. No reason to be a complete ass about it.
 
+Fabio Basile 
We know the core on Mars no longer generates a magnetic field- you think the core of the earth will run for infinity?

Entropy.
 
+Cory Capps Infinity is a long time, for sure. However, in some circles it's believed that multiple asteroid strikes in close intervals may have destroyed the magnetic core of Mars. Does that mean that Earth's magnetic core will last forever? No. Does it mean that Earth's magnetic core may last many billions of years? Possibly.
 
+Cory Capps Mars has had its run, i'm sure when it happened it must have been one hell of a party... As for the current state of things, Earth is the only planet in our system at the right distance from the sun, hence able to support a life-sustaining atmosphere and water. I'm sure one day Earth will eventually run out of "spin-juice", but sure as heck is not going to happen overnight like in the movies. If it does happen i already have a plan that involves a chilled glass, a couple of rocks, vodka and and a front row seat.
 
It is the biggest arrogance of mankind to thing it could have an impact on the climate. In any way.
 
Climate change is real and enlightened individuals, businesses and governments (admittedly there are fewer in the last category!) are taking practical steps and making a real effort in reducing CO2 emissions around the world. Firstly, we are adopting more resource and energy efficient ways of doing things and then as renewable energy reaches grid parity wind/solar/wave/geothermal will become the new norm for energy generation and that will mean reduced utility bills for all. It will also ensure the demise of dirty and outdated fossil fuels and the end of centralised power around energy generation. Wars over oil and energy security issues will become historic issues. The rise of the green economy will create untold jobs, wealth and provide meaningful careers to a new generation. Any threat of an apocalyptic tipping point should only serve to shake us out of apathy and make us work harder towards achieving this vision.
 
+daniel shields Well put. I don't agree with doomsday fanatics seeing humans as a plague or a disease. Evolution is inevitable, we can choose to fight it with denial or embrace it with a better future in mind.
 
We need to leave this rock- for one reason or another it will die someday- my reason for saying infinity when discussing the core... I would like to see mankind last as long as it can- there is only so much we can do before we need to move out. 
Focusing on the climate as our demise annoys me when there are other more pressing issues (such as fresh water) - and like my first post poked fun at- we still dont understand fundamental physical properties of this planet.
Trying to predict how the wind will blow in the morning is much less of a concern to me than some madman in N. Korea wanting to start WW3..... not that its not a concern.... but its not at the top of the list.

Its like designing a car to withstand frontal impacts only- dont become zealous on one vector- work on a number of things at once... humor would have it that we go super "green" and get obliterated by a earth impact or some crazy nation with way too many nukes. 

Also

The energy chain is not going to support such a top-heavy load and fossil fuels are simply acting as a capacitor until we burn up everything.

Just think, If only hydrogen was not such a slutty element we could have nipped this thing long ago!
 
+David Robertson  
I think its easier to oversimplify because of our lack of understanding about how gravitational forces interact with planetary bodies. I said energy chain so I was covered since that statement is rather open ended as to sources. 
 
Been hearing this for decades. Same question.
 
The scarcity argument, although true to some extent also works the "limited supply" argument & thus raises prices. Many are making & will continue making huge profits because ...yes you guessed it ... "humanity is pushing the Earth past a Tipping point". Lets hope it does not occur 
 
To the original question, the correct answer is "Yes."
 
we are the cancer of this beautiful planet.and nothing on earth will stop it.exstinction by other forces will do the job.
 
humanity is out of control pollution,over population, less food. depleting the ocean food source, i can go on and and on.
 
Are you kidding me. Bunch of bs.
 
So am I a crank if I propose one to consider a spiritual answer? Would this kind of consideration have less empirical proof than global warming, evolution, alien seminal theory or merely saying "everyone dies?" do not we base our belief on the "scientific" and secular on our experiences and feelings--even though we organize them into repeatable phenomena? Just saying . . . .
 
Another colossal left wing HOAX like global warming.  Lefties claimed the world was over loaded fifty years ago. (see book Population Bomb) 
How many times do these illogical hoaxes need debunk before the left finally gives up?
 
Well +Robert Tetlow if you're wrong you won't live long enough to know it, so why bother doing anything. Although, if you're wrong, is the post apocalyptic nightmare that your grandkids will likely not live through worth it for you now? On the other hand, if you're right, well... you won't live long enough to say "I told you so". Seems like an easy choice, switch to CFL's now, or run the risk of your family line, or potentially, all family lines ending.
 
Eh - I don't think people think things through.  Follow me here. 

It has taken 2300 million years for life on this planet to suck hydrocarbons from the atmosphere and bury them (in the form of things like oil, coal, natural gas).

Now, we're digging it up, combusting it and putting it back into the atmosphere.

So we're no so much heading towards the tipping point, as rolling back the atmospheric odometer.  If we keep at it, eventually the only thing that will be successful on this planet are anaerobes and cyanobacteria.  In essence we're reversing the great oxygenation event.  The world will eventually come to resemble how it looked during the early Palæoproterozoic period.  Which is to say, there will be little to no advanced life and bacteria will be the top of the food chain.

And here's the kicker - the life that lived during that period is thawing out from the melting ice caps and waking up.  What do you those nasty hydrocarbon rich bacterial and cyanobacteria blooms are that are floating along the coast of Alaka and other near arctic coastlines?  They're the past re-emerging to reclaim the planet as we provide them with a viable habitat.  On the upside - I bet they'll eat plastics like the Andromeda strain.  hahahaha  Another upside, I have no doubt that among the stuff frozen, but still alive and waking up in melt water of the ice cap are plagues the like we've never seen.  Ok - those are downsides if you don't get sarcasm. ;)
 
+David Robertson I hear that scientist have figured out this global warming thing.

Its that large star in the center of the universe that also happens pull the earth.

All energy=solar energy
 
+Steven Ingram the naysayers don't get, nor do they care about all that scientific junk, they just want to know that they can get their next big mac, and buy their next big truck with a gun rack with their profits from all the tax subsidies they get by selling "clean" coal and oil. You need to put it to them in their language, like: "Boy, if you don't clean up your act and care about the environment, there won't be enough oxygen in the atmosphere to run your pickup."
 
Yeah, of the 2 responses.  One cited the sun as the center of the universe (the heliocentric model - pre-16th century thinking, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they meant solar system).  The other compares naturally occurring combustion to 7 billion people burning hydrocarbons (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year) and releasing the byproducts into the atmosphere (apples and oranges).

Though the latter does present a truth - the planet CAN handle some of it.  It just can't handle all of it (especially with unchecked population growth and the resulting consumption).  Meanwhile, it's trees, plants and other phosynthesizers that lock down hydrocarbons...  and here we are...  dumping hydrocarbons AND deforesting and at the same time (ie, breaking the method by which the planet "handles it.")  Did you know the amount of asphalt and cement is gobbling up surface area faster than grass?  And trust me - neither asphalt or cement scrub the atmosphere.  In fact, "black top" outgasses hydrocarbons when heated.
 
You're right, I was being extremist.  :D I did say "eventually" I don't think we'll see any of this for generations.  (I'm talking in geologic time scales, not next tuesday. LOL)  But thinking in longer baselines might be wise.
 
Honestly - I don't think we'll go extinct, but I do think we'll have a die back.  Pesky carrying capacity.  
 
On the other hand, I bet there isn't a single species that ever thought, "Hmmm, we appear to be going extinct" before it happened.  LOL
 
Oooo...  I'm cracking up.  I just thought of that meme, "Let me play you the song of my peoples."
 
And as my grand finale of my trolling spam fest.  I apologize for being an alarmist smart ass.  :D  It's been fun though.

PS.  When Michael said, "self correcting" he meant evolution.  You don't believe in that nonsense do you?  :>
 
Prometheus spoiler...

maybe that's why The Engineers wanted to kill us?
 
I think we will push it over the edge for us. Something will survive. When we're all dead there will be plenty of food for all the bacteria and fungus.
 
I believe the fear mongers should read of Thomas Malthus.
 
I honesty don't think that humans are of any great concern to the giant floating rock that we live on. The earth is only a big rock, it doesn't think or act in response to anything. We are a very small part of a small planet in an unfathomable universe. We just think up this stuff because we developed self-awareness and are so inclined to explain and theorise about our existence.
 
Yes.  The universe has a predilection for lifeless rocks.  Never mind we have the ability to observe things happening, and the power to take action to effect it.  That doesn't matter, sentience and capability aren't worth 2 squirts of piss.  And never mind that this particular rock has life - it's just our self awareness that suggests that it should have life (even though that life predates our awareness; even if you're a  creationist, the plants and animals came before us).  So lets help it become lifeless.  The logic is impeccable.  I can get behind this position. :>

I'm going to set up a lifeless rock fund.  I'll dedicate its resources to accelerating the destruction of the ecosystem and the collapse of the biosphere.  Why waste time?  May as well be efficient.  I promise to eradicate all this pesky life that is marring the beauty of a perfectly pristine lifeless rock.  With your help, we can stamp out the plague of life in our lifetime, together.  Donate to the lifeless rock fund today!

Tune in next time for another episode of, Fun with Sarcasm. :D
 
If we were honest the tipping point has probably already passed. Sad to say, but we are eating up resources at an exponential rate that doesn't appear to be slowing - infact the opposite is true.

We need to learn to find ways to share resources, limit waste and recycle more in an energy efficient way. A big ask as many industries are designed around these very factors.
 
One cannot stay in its nest for all its life. Mankind must go out and expand in space.
But of course, we must not destroy our beutiful planet before
 
Feregini 75th Rule of Acquisition:  Home is where the heart is...  but the stars are made of latinum.
 
of course we are we need to be more self concuss (I know i did not spell that right) about the way we create energy and dispose of waste
 
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Is there any evidence that humanity is not pushing global ecosystems past tipping points on various levels?
In the big picture its pretty obvious I thought. Humanity has obviously major impact on planet earth.
Though 1) of course its a complex situation
2) the topic is contaminated by a populist strand (from both sides)
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