Wise Earth is the home of Wise Ape (Homo Sapiens) who now has the god-like power (Homo Deus) that has made this conscious ape a new geological force that has created the Anthropocene Epoch. This article is with an astro-biologist who coined the phrase TERRA SAPIENCE  to advocate noting less than a new evolutionary transition in which homo sapiens begins to act by the rules of the Wise Earth.

learning to gracefully integrate our technological activities into the cyclic workings of the planet so that we are working with, and not against, Earth systems. For this we will need a reinvention of the human race and our ways of being in the world.

a more globally conscious humanity. It may be that a good Anthropocene, if one is to arise or be created, will come after some period of catastrophe.   The 21st century is a very dangerous time for humanity. But if you look several hundred years or 1000 years in the future, it’s possible we will have learned some lessons, maybe some of them the hard way, and evolved toward a planetary scale existence. There’s a growing ability to perceive the world globally, and there is certainly the possibility of nonlinear change in human dynamics, as well as nonlinear change in global dynamics.

 So we can’t continue to act with a Holocene mindset of not worrying about the global consequences of our actions. TERRA SAPIENCE   means literally, wise Earth. It implies identifying with the earth with our planetary stewardship to the point that it becomes integrated into the way we operate. The bare minimum of being a truly intelligent species means operating in a way that doesn’t threaten our future. We are operating on a planetary scale. So we have to integrate that knowledge into the way we conduct ourselves. That to me is sort of another stage of evolution, that we haven’t quite reached, but that we can talk about, and we can envision.  There are encouraging examples: I mentioned the ozone solution. There are also examples from the area of public health, where we’ve achieved enough global cooperation to wipe out some dangerous diseases. So to me, Terra Sapience is achieving the state where it’s second nature to think on a planetary scale in order to thrive over the long term.


 GH – Do the current politics of exclusion and intolerance have a place in the good Anthropocene?

DG – Absolutely not.  I don’t see how we can achieve a good outcome for our species or for the biosphere without a more inclusive vision of what it means to be human.  You can see this playing out in the current refugee crisis being exacerbated by climate change. We can’t focus societal efforts on global solutions if we’re fighting with each other, and reinforcing our borders against people displaced because of climate change. There are just going to be more refugees, and more displaced people, and more conflict.  In the long run, these are linked concepts; human justice and environmental justice.



Amazon deforestation

The ‘lungs of the planet’ as the Amazon rain forest is known, is a classic example of how unspoiled nature is seen as both a source and a barrier to  economic growth and the source of wealth generation. This article sets out the complicated factors in the battle between the exploiters and the preservers of the Amazon rain forest.

Over the past few decades the international community has watched as the destruction of Earth’s largest forest has intensified. Deforestation has been eating away at the Amazon’s fringes, mainly for commercial cattle ranching and agricultural plantation. The agriculture, livestock, mining and infrastructure sectors have been promoted due to powerful financial and development pressures for high profits and economic growth.

Meanwhile, indigenous peoples, traditional communities and smallholders have had their livelihoods imperilled, while carbon emissions have increased, water quality and quantity have declined, forest fires have increased, and wildlife has been lost.

Brazil’s government is making efforts to stem the drive from wealth-seekers to use the forest for profit but the motivation of private gain is as usual hard to stem in the interests of the public good. In this case, the public good can be seen as the good for all humanity, given the importance of maintaining the health of ‘the planet’s green lung’.

Thermokarst lakes release methane

Yet another piece of evidence to add to the mounting  flow concerning disruption of long-stable climate patterns that coincided with the Holocene geological period in which human civilisations flourished.:

Unfortunately, our planet’s changing climate is denting permafrosts around the world. And now NASA-funded research has confirmed that the expected gradual thawing of the Arctic permafrost is being dramatically sped up by a natural phenomenon known as thermokarst lakes.

This extract is from an article on the Science Alert website.

Permafrost covers about 24 percent of the exposed land in the Northern Hemisphere. There’s a lot of it. In some areas of the Arctic, the frozen ground is up to 80 metres (260 feet deep).

But despite its name, permafrost is not always permanent. With unusually warm weather, especially further away from the Arctic, it can melt, even on a semi-regular basis; however, deep in the Arctic a lot of it has stayed unmelted for tens of thousands of years – until now. And that’s where the problems start. The Arctic landscape also holds one of the largest natural reservoirs of organic carbon in the world. It’s all locked up in the ice, not causing any trouble at the moment. But when it slowly melts, the soil microbes eat the carbon and produce carbon dioxide and methane, which enters the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Thermokarst lakes take this process to a whole new level, with permafrost thawing deeper and more quickly – which the researchers call abrupt thawing….

Although thermokarst lakes are currently not included in global climate change models because they’re small and scattered, the team says this new research shows how important it is to include them. Human fossil fuel emissions are still the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions, but these lakes are important to keep an eye on.

Anthropocene Controversy

This article sets out the current controversy among geologists about the definition of the geological age in which we are living. The Geologic Time Scale is a massive achievement that divides the whole of the Earth’s history into meaningful units of time representing key changes in the Earth system, typically based on new lifeforms appearing in the fossil record. The system splits geological time into ever finer “nested” units: eons being the longest, followed by eras then periods, epochs and finally ages….  two “committees”, some scientists wedded to the Holocene, others backing the acknowledgement of the Anthropocene are in  dispute.

The article author challenges the use of ‘epoch’ for the Holocene that is one of 45 inter-glacial phases in the last 2.5 million years. He also criticises the Holocene committee for ignoring the evident huge impact of humans in the last 500 years on both the physical an d life environments of the planet’s surface which the Anthropocene committee favours as the most recent geological epoch.

The article links to two relevant short videos  that elaborate differences in the two geological perspectives. From the perspective of this Spaceship Earth website, to ignore the Great Acceleration of human impact on the planet since the 1950s suggests a remarkable oversight of  the IGCU Holocene committee on stratigraphy. Humans now move and construct more ‘strata’ than do the natural forces of erosion, not to mention adding larger quantities of CO2 to the atmosphere and creating a hole in the ozone layer!

Climate cascade towards ‘Hothouse Earth’

A new research report referred to in this Guardian article offers in graphic form a catalogue of ten climate change trends and effects that may combine to greatly hasten the heating of Spaceship Earth. Feedback loops are likely to amplify one another leading to effects that will make any efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, of little consequence.,

One of the authors of the Stockholm Resilence Centre research Johann Rockström says there are huge gaps in data and knowledge about how one process might amplify another. Contrary to the Gaia theory, which suggests the Earth has a self-righting tendency, he says the feedbacks could push the planet to a more extreme state. As an example, the authors say the loss of Greenland ice could disrupt the Gulf Stream ocean current, which would raise sea levels and accumulate heat in the Southern Ocean, which would in turn accelerate ice loss from the east Antarctic. Concerns about this possibility were heightened earlier this year by reports that the Gulf Stream was at its weakest level in 1,600 years. Currently, global average temperatures are just over 1C above pre-industrial levels and rising at 0.17C per decade. The Paris climate agreement set actions to keep warming limited to 1.5C-2C by the end of the century, but the authors warn more drastic action may be necessary.

This is the link to the research paper

“Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene”  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) in the USA.

This review includes the following conclusion:

“Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene” is a powerful and convincing argument for rapid and radical action. Its weaknesses should not distract us from recognizing it as an important contribution that should inform all serious efforts to understand and respond to the global crisis. By firmly placing climate change in the context of the Anthropocene and Earth System Science, it breaks from the dominant view that global warming is a linear process that can be solved by market reforms. Incremental measures like carbon pricing cannot address the systemic problems that are relentlessly driving Earth’s temperature upward.

If an irrevocable trajectory to Hothouse Earth is even possible — and this paper shows that it is — then decisive counter-measures must be at the top of the agenda for everyone who is concerned about humanity’s future.


This long read with rich interactive images, is from 1st August 2018 New York Times on-line. It takes a look at the way climate science in the early 1980s set out the trends that now are having great impact on the earth’s atmosphere and oceans and threatening present and future  generations. It details some of the key scientific figures whose work three decades ago created the base for understanding climate change brought about by human action.

Here in a review of the NYT article, Naomi Klein takes issue with the NYT author’s failure to recognise that the 1980s was the decade in which politically supported neo-liberal capitalist values were set in train – the so-called Reagan-Thatcher years, Klein herself has written a  major book that presents the argument that the ascendancy of powerful corporate interests, especially fossil fuel corporations, were able to mount a campaign of climate denial at that time. Offering a sliver of hope about the present, Klein sees the appearance of social democratic contenders in US politics as a counterblast to the present  earth-wrecking policies of the current administration.

And here a second critical review from Common Dreams that supports the view that neo-liberal policies are the main driver of climate change,

CFCs & HFCs update

This article from The Conversation includes two short video presentations updating on the depletion of the ozone layer and the not-so-successful as thought united effort to curb the use of CFCs in refrigeration and air conditioning machines. The Montreal Protocol of 1987 has long been regarded as a rare success story in the face of environmental damage with global consequences.  Recently an increase in CFC use has been traced to the manufacturing of building insulation material in China.

This second article is from Jeremy Williams’ blog on the environmental costs of refrigeration from the estimated 1,4 billion fridges worldwide and 1,6 billion air conditioning units. HFCs replaced CFCs but they still make a major contribution to global warming if not to ozone depletion.

Yet another example of the unintended consequences of technological development that brings benefits but grave unintended long-term costs to humanity,

Plastic pollution: no solution?

This article suggests that the oceans are more threatened by climate change  and over-fishing than by plastic accumulation and that the fundamental problems are created by ignoring the environmental  consequences of economic growth. Technofix solutions to cleaning up plastics can only have minimum impact as can local action without government regulation around the world of the production of plastics.

Communities in charge of managing their local environment have been shown to be effective in coastal areas, but issues always arise with the scaling-up of these approaches to national or international levels.

There is clearly a need for policies which support local initiatives, rather than combat them. For example, government policies should immediately call for bans on non-essential plastic packaging rather than “working to a target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042” as the UK’s 25 year environmental plan currently indicates.


CO2 emissions footprint

This comprehensive MAHB article with  revealing graphs mapping increases and tables analyzing sources, is the best short update on human production of atmospheric CO2 to 2018 that I have read. The accelerating trajectories of CO2 emissions to the current 411 ppm level far exceed the highest amount ever observed in the atmosphere during the last 800000  years.This recent relentless rise in CO2 shows a remarkably constant relationship with fossil-fuel burning, and can be well accounted for based on the simple premise that about 60 percent of fossil-fuel emissions stay in the air.

The author concludes the article as follows:

Today, we stand on the threshold of a new geologic era. What is happening is human caused. This does not augur well for the future for if we were to continue fossil fuel use with business as usual such that humanity exhausts the reserves over the next few centuries, CO2 would inexorably continue to rise to levels on the order of 1500 ppm[16].

The atmosphere would then not return to pre-industrial levels for even tens of thousands of years into the future. Figure 3 not only conveys the scientific measurements, it shows a stunning difference between today and the past 800,000 years. It also underscores the fact that humans have a great capacity to change atmospheric CO2, and therefore the climate on our planet.

The planet Venus suffers from runaway greenhouse effect, which results in keeping its temperature at 400o C [17]. Its atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide that comes from carbon cycling from molten rocks.

The condition of our Earth is ‘Anthropocene’, in other words is human made. Is it possible that we will end up like Venus one day in our reckless burning of fossil fuels?

This link is to the MAHB debate graph which allows search and comments on How to navigate the global 21st century?

Two months of heat wave in western Europe have prompted this statement from Michael Mann, a high profile climate scientist from Penn State U reported in a Guardian interview. It likens the relationship between global warming and extreme weather events to the correlation between smoking and cancer that was so long denied by the tobacco industry. Mann claims that AGW doubles the chances of these extreme events which also have seen devastating floods and wildfires around the world in recent months. And here is a BBC report on the association between the recent heatwave and climate change.