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Category Archives: Economics

Consequences of Ecological Instability


Change happens all around us, and the pace of change is accelerating. Studying and adapting to change can make you happier and ready to use the unfolding opportunities.

Rick Potts in his “Humanity’s Descent: Consequences of Ecological Instability” begins with the obvious: people all over globe are clustering in communities, the world’s population has doubled since 1950, and the urban areas will double again in 22 years while the cities will double in 15 years.

The growth industries will be those that support the surge in Earth’s human population: energy, metals, minerals, and food. Industries that mitigate or reverse the resulting waste and pollution will grow in parallel. Mining and smelting will pollute the world’s aquifers, rivers, and land, requiring new technologies and industries to remediate the damage done.

Although our lifetimes are the smallest fraction of the time in continental formation, our impact on the environment is accelerating continental parallelism – common histories of continental evolutions. Global deterioration is increasing warmth and moisture. Forests are transitioning into grasslands, which in turn are transitioning into deserts. Natural arable land is diminishing.

Planetary variations of Earth’s orbit, tilt, rotation affect the environment on a scale beyond a lifetime. Every 100,000 years the Earth has an orbital ellipse variation; every 41,000 years Earth experiences a tilt cycle and every 23,000 years a precession cycle (distance to Sun during a season, presently closest during Northern winter).

Potts describes an interesting fact about Earth’s environment and our nose. As the Earth became drier, our ancestors needed a humidifier for our bodies to function in drier climates. The human nose moisturizes incoming air and captures the precious moisture on our exhale.

Potts describes changes we will experience in our lifetime and changes that will happen to our distant posterity. Knowing how to adapt to changes is our challenge.