The circular economy: 4. Tipping point ignorance




World population and food

I have used this before on this blog and repeat it because it is a very significant concept. Courtesy of “The Furrow”, journal of John Deere.

We are loosing bio-diversity.  Estimates vary on how many species become extinct every day but is hundreds, even many thousands every year. Does it rally matter?  Similarly, we are damaging the environment we live in very significantly.  How many bricks can we pull; out of the bridge before it collapses?  Could we reverse these changes and are we likely to even try?

The science: The inescapable logic is that, at some point, the changes become irreversible.  That is an over-simplification; if we allow a species to become extinct, that is in reality, irreversible. However, the truth is that it is much more complicated than that.  There will not be a single point, as if a gun was fired.  What will happen is more like a gradual starvation to death. We really do not know how rapid that will be and it will vary according to circumstances. Without any doubt, our environmental destruction is already in progress. It will progress like an exponential population growth curve upwards – except this one is downwards.

The bad news: We really do not know if we are already on the really slippery and steep part of the decline, if that is tomorrow morning or next year.  However, on the information we have now, it is very unlikely to be 10 years.  So it is no good leaving it to our kids.

The good news: it does appear that we are still on a gentle slope and that we still have time to avoid the really catastrophic decline in our environment. BUT, not much time.

Bill Butterworth 6th March 16

PS, I have used this Figure in the introduction of my latest book due out in April, “Survival! – Sustainable energy, waste, shale gas and the land.”