Half Earth is half an answer

We’re not yet sentient or intelligent enough to be much of anything. And we’re not going to have a secure future if we continue to play the kind of false god who whimsically destroys Earth’s living environment, and are pleased with what we have wrought.
Wilson, Edward O. (2016-03-07). Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life (p. 47).

 

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The Paris accord marks the beginning of a new era of sustainability

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“By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle.
By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.”
George Monbiot writing in The Guardian 12 December 2015
“It’s a fraud really, a fake,… just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises.”
James Hansen, PhD, after the Paris accord 12 December 2015

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Sustainability Programming is an Ethical Obligation for Higher Education in the Environmental Century

First published in the Journal of Sustainability Education, Dec. 2015.

Abstract. Development of a sustainable relationship with our natural resources is an imperative for any meaningful quality of life as climate change poses the ultimate test of our adaptability as a species. The consequences of failing to respond will be catastrophic and irrevocable over a millennial time scale. During the environmental century, higher education has an ethical imperative to provide the foundation of a sustainable civilization. Higher education is broadly failing to meet this mandate. Most existing programs in environmental and sustainability science and studies provide inadequate training and lack budgetary autonomy equivalent to established academic units. Although many universities define sustainability through operational activities, the primary purpose of higher education is not operational sustainability — it is teaching, learning, scholarship, and outreach. Developing the capacity for proactive adaptation will require us to examine how we conduct teaching and research across the spectrum of higher education institutions. Education and research for proactive adaptation to rapid ecological change affecting human and natural systems is necessary if we are to produce holistic managers to conserve our natural heritage. All undergraduates should acquire basic ecological and sustainability literacy. Teaching, learning, and scholarship for sustainability must become the highest priority in higher education. Collectively, faculty have the power to implement these reforms.

Keywords: Sustainability education, higher education reform, transdisciplinary, sustainability curriculum

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The case for leaving the carbon in the ground

Jim Hansen has used the phrase “essentially game over” when referring to the greenhouse gas emissions that would ensue from the use of Tar Sands oil as an energy source.  To be sure, there is one heck of a lot of carbon in this one source, and Bill McKibben has referred to the proposed pipeline as the “fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet.” Continue reading “The case for leaving the carbon in the ground”