This one has gotten the most attention. It’s true: the weather is warmer, storms are more severe, glaciers are shrinking, droughts are more common and are lasting longer, oceans are warming up, sea levels are rising, polar ice is melting. And therefore….diseases are spreading, plants and animals are shifting their range (when they can!), forest fires are frequent and more intense. You’ve heard it before, but if you don’t believe me look at the Global Warming Map.
The first oil well was drilled in 1859; we’ve probably got another 40 years—at most–of oil left. “Peak Oil” is not that moment when the oil runs out, it’s the moment when all the usable reserves of oil have been found and the shortages begin. Some people say oil will peak in the next ten years. A lot of people say it already has. Our fossil fuel addiction has led to climate change, but withdrawing from fossil fuels without some alternate plan, and in the context of a relentless growth economy, is a recipe for economic disaster and resource wars.
We haven’t seen a mass species extinction like this since the last big meteor impact 55 million years ago. Seriously. We shouldn’t just care because it’s sad—we should care because ecosystems are delicately calibrated Rube Goldberg machines and when one piece is lost the whole thing suffers. Some 1300 scientists from around the world recently released the four-year Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. They concluded that of 24 ecosystems identified as essential to human life, 15 are “being pushed beyond their sustainable limits,” toward a state of collapse that may be “abrupt and potentially irreversible.” Some 10 to 30 percent of mammal, bird and amphibian species are facing imminent extinction.