We started the week with the news that Wynn Bruce set himself on fire outside the US Supreme Court. He did this as an act of compassion to raise awareness about the climate crisis. The media – if they did cover it – were very unclear about his why, but his friends stepped in and cleared it up. This will not be the last case of self-immolation, as the deep anxiety around what we are doing to ourselves becomes untenable for so many.
The other piece of BIG news this week (and there were many more stories), is the fact we have now passed the 6th of nine planetary boundaries. Look out for:
Freshwater boundary exceeds safe limits – Stockholm Resilience Centre
Nature Today | Planetary boundaries update: freshwater change exceeds safe limits
This news is about dramatic changes to the global water cycle, with parts of the Amazon drying out. Green water is an addition to the planetary boundaries, as scientific research continues to improve and more data becomes available.
The story highlights
- Reassessed planetary boundary for freshwater includes “green water” – rainfall, soil moisture and evaporation. Essentially, green water is the water available to plants
- Green water is considered to be outside safe zone of Holocene-like conditions based on global changes to soil moisture
- Green water links the freshwater boundary tightly to other planetary boundaries such as land use, biodiversity and climate
“Water is the bloodstream of the biosphere. But we are profoundly changing the water cycle. This is now affecting the health of the entire planet.” Lan Wang-Erlandsson, lead author
To provide some history, the planetary boundaries framework was published in 2009, and it demarcates a safe operating space for humanity. Water is one of the nine regulators of the state of the Earth system, and is the sixth boundary that scientists have assessed as being transgressed.
The other transgressed boundaries include: climate change, biosphere integrity, biogeochemical cycles, land system change and, in 2022, novel entities, which includes plastic and other manmade chemicals.
“The Amazon rainforest depends on soil moisture for its survival. But there is evidence that parts of the Amazon are drying out. The forest is losing soil moisture as a result of climate change and deforestation,” says Arne Tobian, second author and PhD candidate at the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
“These changes are potentially pushing the Amazon closer to a tipping point where large parts could switch from rainforest to savannah-like states,” he adds.
Credit: Stockholm Resilience Centre
Other headlines to look out for
(And remember I’m not including links here because I really want to encourage you to invest the time in this information below. It is too important to ignore and this isn’t everything.)
- After the relentless rain, South Africa sounds the alarm on the climate crisis
- India heatwave: Severe temperatures will bake a billion people and damage crops
- Clusters of Weather Extremes Will Increase Risks to Corn Crops, Society
- Too many new coal-fired plants planned for 1.5C climate goal, report concludes
- UN says up to 40% of world’s land now degraded
- Humanity on ′spiral of self-destruction′ as disasters rise, UN warns
- Climate change study: Cut 75 per cent of meat from diet
- Climate change triggering global collapse in insect numbers: stressed farmland shows 63% decline – new research
- Rice and the Climate Crisis: Thai rice farmers struggle against climate-driven challenges
- 2021 tropical forest loss figures put zero-deforestation goal by 2030 out of reach
And business is not doing what is necessary to reduce the worst possible outcomes
- Asset managers have $82 billion in coal, $468 billion in oil and gas
- Wells Fargo and Citigroup Vote to Keep Financing Fossil Fuels
Another critical read is (see below under politics): U.S. Treasury’s Yellen, White House say World Bank needs major ‘reboot’ | Reuters. This is overdue, but at least it’s starting. We need the smartest people in the world on this.
And finally, look for: Interview: Ramez Naam, futurist, author, and investor. The final question on what can we do is perfect and I love Ramez’s answers. Take inspiration and work out what you can do. Action is the pathway out of fear and we need billions acting now.
At a technical level: Get involved. If you have professional skills, how do you deploy them? Do you work on optimizing ad clicks? On marketing consumer products? On fossil fuel production? Can you deploy those same professional skills to working on clean energy or climate, or computing advances that can accelerate progress, or helping craft business models or marketing plans for products that improve humanity?
On a civil level: Can you help cut through the hyper-polarization that exists? Can you reach out to people with differing opinions, learn how they think, and help persuade them to see the other side? Can you help elect leaders that move us forward instead of backwards? Can you criticize the worst ideas on your own political side. If you’re a conservative, can you stand up for democracy? If you’re a liberal, can you support free speech on campus and in the private sector? Can you help overcome NIMBY?
On a social level: Can you help cut through the heavy marketing of outrage and fear that media use to get clicks? Can you calm the discourse down? Can you help overcome “if it bleeds, it leads” in news media? And maybe most importantly, can you help spread this notion of dynamic optimism, showing people how the world is getting better in so many ways, and inspiring them to take action – whatever action they can – to continue to make it better?
Let’s get stuck into the reads.
Friend’s content and mine
Sharing a snippet of The Know Show, recorded on Earth Day. A deep and urgent conversation with Tim Wade and Joe Augustin. We must do all we can to turn this around. We are running out of time.
I launched my daily tips for everyone to help address climate change and here is week seven. I will also be updating these ideas at this blog – What can I do to act on climate change? Actions we can all embrace. Favorite it and check in often.
If everyone gave #just10percent of their time, talent, money or voice, we’ll change the world. Can you donate? Make it a regular donation to the World Food Programme. Or donate to the UN Refugee Program, PowerOf , Kiva.org , Soi Dog Foundation. It’s a time for giving and taking care of each other.
Content to read
And here’s the content I’ve been reading this last week. Scan the headlines, read the ones that jump out at you, read or watch them all. Knowledge is power, and global knowledge is even more powerful.
Interview: Ramez Naam, futurist, author, and investor tks Robert Kirubi
Severe Indian heatwave will bake a billion people and damage crops tks Damian Corbet
Food waste is responsible for 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions tks Robert Kirubi
Global politics – focus on Ukraine
Boris Johnson ‘tempting evil’ by revealing Ukrainian soldiers trained in Poland tks Dr. Philip Merry
Australia Now on Transparency International’s Corruption Watchlist tks Phillipa Edwards
Business and technology
Social issues and humanity
Passion, humour, history
Let me know what jumped out at you? Or share with me what you’re reading? I love that!
Uncommon Courage: an invitation – my latest book
Better yet, order it from your local bookstore, so you can #SupportLocal.
You can read the reviews, including a new five-star review on Book Commentary, another five-star review on ReaderViews, a review on BookTrib, and three more on Booklife, another on Book Commentary and Blue Ink Reviews. I’m also collating reviews on my Website too. Have a look and grateful to everyone who has written or recorded one.
Come and join the conversation in my new Facebook Group Uncommon Courage.
The Know Show
Check out The Know Show. It’s a weekly wrap up of the news!
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Connect with Andrea
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