BSB 163     J. Morris Hicks     (8-24-18) 
Climate Tipping Point--Before & After 

This post references two RollingStone articles. The first was written in 2012, about the time we were likely passing the climate change "tipping point." Webster definition:

The critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant, and often unstoppable, effect or change takes place. 

The second article, dated 8-9-18, was almost certainly written well past the climate change tipping point.

The 2012 article was a well researched piece by climate activist Bill McKibben  -- and, at the time, was a wake up call for me to start thinking much more seriously about the alarming reality of climate change.

Early in the piece, Mr. McKibben levels with his readers regarding our chances to solve climate change. He states:

Since I wrote one of the first books for a general audience about  global warming  back in 1989, and since I've spent the intervening decades working ineffectively to slow that warming, I can say with some confidence that we're losing the fight, badly and quickly - losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.

In his lengthy article, McKibben went on to essentially make the argument that we had already passed the tipping point as we had failed miserably at the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen and that there was no way to stop the global economy from burning the remaining fossil fuels that we know exist. He explained:
We have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as climate scientists think is safe to burn. We'd have to keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away underground to avoid that fate. Before we knew those numbers, our fate had been likely. Now, barring some massive intervention, it seems certain.
Yes, this coal and gas and oil is still technically in the soil. But it's already economically aboveground - it's figured into share prices, companies are borrowing money against it, nations are basing their budgets on the presumed returns from their patrimony. 
It explains why the big fossil-fuel companies have fought so hard to prevent the regulation of carbon dioxide - those reserves are their primary asset, the holding that gives their companies their value. It's why they've worked so hard these past years to figure out how to unlock the oil in Canada's tar sands, or how to drill miles beneath the sea, or how to frack the Appalachians.
So that was six years ago--back in 2012, when we may have still had a chance to turn things around. Fast-forward to 2018 and the second RollingStone article by author Jeff Goodell, dated 8-9-18.

He opens with this line:

"Our future," scientist James Lovelock has written,  "is like that of the passengers on a small pleasure boat sailing quietly above the Niagara Falls, not knowing that the engines are about to fail."

Having studied Lovelock myself for the past few years, I have concluded that he is among a small group of true "big picture" scientists in the world today. Alive and well at 99, this is the slide I use when talking about him in my public presentations. Note the kind of human behavior he says will be rewarded by Mother Nature.

Question re his quote: Does anyone really believe that the Earth is improving as a result of our presence? Since the industrial revolution began, our population has increased eight-fold and we've been doing what the humans did in the movie Avatar in 2009, we've been rapidly "killing our mother"--the ecosystem of planet Earth that gives us life.

Goodell refers to Lovelock a few more times in his piece and also references a new paper  in the  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  called "Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene" that reached a similar conclusion, projecting:

...a very Lovelock-ian view of our world, arguing that even if we managed to hit the carbon emissions targets set in the Paris Climate Accord, we still might trigger a series of accelerating climate-system feedback loops that would push the climate into a permanent hothouse state, with a warming of four, five or even six degrees Celsius. 

If that were to happen, the paper argued, "Hothouse Earth is likely to be uncontrollable and dangerous to many, particularly if we transition into it in only a century or two, and it poses severe risks for health, economies, political stability (especially for the most climate vulnerable), and ultimately, the habitability of the planet for humans."

The Bottom Line.  With climate change, things seem to just keep getting worse. Going forward, as mainstream science begins to embrace its harsh and imminent realities, my purpose remains the same. 

I am simply trying keep my readers informed and perhaps attract the attention of one or two powerful leaders who might lead some meaningful initiatives like I have described below. 

Although I now believe that it is too late to stop or reverse climate change, it is never too late to work on making the best of a bad situation, one for which we are responsible. For that reason, w e must now urgently focus on how we can maximize our chances for survival beyond this century:
1. Mitigation. Taking steps to slow climate change and thereby, limit the extent of the disruption it will cause.
2. Adaptation. Adjusting the way we live such that we can continue to survive and thrive on planet Earth.
In order to accomplish the above, the world's most powerful leaders must get real serious about tackling the 5 initiatives below that we should have been urgently addressing for the past thirty years. So far, our "leaders" have done nothing except make matters worse.

5 Steps to Making Our Planet Livable for the Long Term
  • Reduce the global population to a sustainable level.
  • Develop, implement & enforce a green global economy.
  • Abolish animal agriculture throughout the world.
  • Dramatically slash the consumption of fossil fuels.
  • Aggressively pursue geo-engineering options for lowering the carbon concentration in the atmosphere. 
For me, as long as I can envision a viable pathway for humanity going forward, I will not give up hope. John Robbins (Diet for a New America) agrees. Like me, he's concluded that we desperately need stronger leadership on the global stage. In an email to me earlier this month, he stated:

My son Ocean and I are doing what we can through our Food Revolution Network, but the situation is becoming increasingly dire. 

Not only do we not have the leadership that's required, the leadership that we do have embodies the most blatant denial and is taking us further and further from any hope of turning things around. It's quite a time to be alive, isn't it?

Finally, here are a few related "Bite-Size Blogs" (BSBs) from the past few weeks: 

Want to see a list of all my BSBs?  Click here.

Be well,

J. Morris (Jim) Hicks 
CEO, 4Leaf Global, LLC
PS: I welcome your feedback and/or questions at:

Looking for Opportunities to Speak.  Since 2016, my research, writing and speaking has been focused on the sustainability of our ecosystem and our future as a species. With a primary emphasis on food choices, I call it the "most important topic in the history of humanity." 

After all, what could possibly be more important to humans than the survival of our species?

 (now contains 5-minute video of me speaking in Tucson) 

Speaking Activity:  In 2018 I spoke at a  VegFest in Fort Myers, FL,   at the  in Honolulu and Kahului, Maui, and at the  College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Upcoming talks: On Oct. 17 at  Plant Powered Manhattan--NYC; and in  South Haven, Michigan, November 2-4.

To schedule a presentation at a venue near you, please contact me at

Promoting health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

Moonglow J. Morris Hicks

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