Almost daily scientists are sounding dire warnings about the effects of climate change. Our young will bear an unprecedented burden. They are eager to discover what can be done, as time slips away. But few of them – or us – are aware that global warming is but one facet of a looming planetary catastrophe. Most of the natural and social systems humans depend on for survival are also in various stages of collapse. Each failure will impact the other systems, including climate, in a series of feedback loops that can unleash a virtual tsunami of destruction, and do so far sooner than climate scientists, looking only at their own discipline, predict. The corona virus pandemic has shown how unprepared we are. Multiply its effects times 10, times 50, to get an idea of what’s coming. We have entered what scientists term a “critical state,” at the brink of an unstable precipice. The smallest push or pull, from any direction, could suddenly topple us. Despite the global scale of the emergency, its root causes are predominantly human and surprisingly simple. With courage to act, we can slow the devastating cascade and, perhaps, even reverse some of the worst impacts.
Thomas Pawlick’s qualifications include 50 years as a science journalist, with 10 as a university professor of journalism. He has published 10 previous books, including the bestseller The End of Food. He lives in Marlbank, Ontario.