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The Diversity of Life Across Much of Earth Has Plunged Below ‘Safe’ Levels

An aerial view shows a tract of Amazon rain forest that has been cleared by loggers and farmers for agriculture near the city of Santarem, Para State, April 20, 2013. (Nacho Doce/Reuters)

CLICK HERE - STUDY - Science - Has land use pushed terrestrial biodiversity beyond the planetary boundary? A global assessment

washingtonpost.com - by Chris Mooney - July 14, 2016

In an ambitious study that represents the latest merger between big data approaches and the quest to conserve the planet, scientists have found that across a majority of the Earth’s land surface — including some of its most important types of terrain and its most populous regions — the abundance or overall number of animals and plants of different species has fallen below a “safe” level identified by biologists.

The reason is not exactly a surprise — from grasslands to tropical forests, humans are using more and more land for agriculture, to live on, to build roads and infrastructure upon. When we take over, we clear the land or otherwise convert it for our purposes.

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In The Amazon's Fire Season, 'You Either Burn Or You Starve'

In the western state of Rondonia, a patch of the forest burns near a small farm. Kainaz Amaria/NPR

Image: In the western state of Rondonia, a patch of the forest burns near a small farm. Kainaz Amaria/NPR

npr.org - November 5th, 2015 - Lourdes Garcia-Navarro

They call it the "burning season" in the Amazon, and when we arrive in Brazil's western state of Rondonia, it's on fire.

A thick, acrid smoke permeates everything, making it difficult to see. Fire, people say in Rondonia, is part of the culture of the state: the ash from the burned trees is the only way to make the land fertile, argue some.

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We Are Literally Farming Ourselves Out of Food

                

NICOLAS ASFOURI via Getty Images

huffingtonpost.com - by Joel K. Bourne, Jr. - July 29, 2015

. . . an article in London's Independent newspaper headlined, "Society will collapse by 2040 due to catastrophic food shortages, says study." The study, based on a model created at Anglia Ruskin University's Global Sustainability Institute, forecasts that if global emissions continue unabated, plausible climate trends will lead to catastrophic crop failures and food riots around the globe. "In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption," Aled Jones, director of the Institute, told reporters. The study echoes a similar, peer-reviewed report from Lloyds of London, which found the probability of a major food crisis "significantly higher" than the insurance industry's benchmark return period of 1:200 years.

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Video - Humanity From Space

      

pbs.org - July 22, 2015

From the global perspective of space, this 2-hour special reveals the breathtaking extent of our influence, revealing how we’ve transformed our planet and produced an interconnected world of extraordinary complexity.

A journey through 12,000 years, Humanity from Space shows how seemingly small flashes of innovation have changed the course of civilization; innovations that touch all of us today in ways unimaginable to our ancestors. And we’ll gaze into the future at the new challenges we’ll face in order to survive as our global population soars because of our success. In every case we’ll look at our progression in a unique and surprising way, revealing unforgettable facts and "who knew?" connections.

To visualize these stories cutting-edge technology is used to turn raw data into authentic moving images, building on expertise from a previous (and highly-praised) project; "Earth From Space." Using this technique, we can map humanity’s behavior in stunning, never seen before detail, revealing how our civilization grew, how it works today and what the future might hold.

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Planetary Boundaries: Guiding Human Development on a Changing Planet

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CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet

As Science publishes the updated research, four of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and nitrogen). Image source: F. Pharand-Deschênes /Globaïa

stockholmresilience.org

Planetary Boundaries 2.0 – new and improved

As Science publishes the updated research, four of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed

Four of nine planetary boundaries have now been crossed as a result of human activity, says an international team of 18 researchers in the journal Science (16 January 2015). The four are: climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land-system change, altered biogeochemical cycles (phosphorus and nitrogen).

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Structural Adaptivity, Before and After Thoughts

 

As a means of concluding these writings on Structural Adaptivity and Resilience, following are some of the background thoughts, with recent revision, that led me to my proposals. Originally, my writings were directed at city and regional planning. However now I realize they are also about resilience.  I hope my submittals will be helpful.  I will try to write more soon.

 

Time.  Planners, resilience makers, and all other leaders and professionals dealing with the built environment must focus on long time spans.  In order to have significant impact on the future of our world, we must recognize that only by looking at big chunks of history and big chunks of future time can we really see the reality of what is going on.  Likewise, we need to do so in order to see the reality of what needs to be done.

 

Typical urban or regional plans target a future some 20 years ahead.  Moreover, they typically are based on past trends of 20 years or so.  However, our world does not change in 20-year cycles.  Twenty years is a very short time period in the flow of transformation.

 

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Structural Adaptivity, Rebalancing by Watersheds - Part II

Here is the second part of my Rebalancing by Watersheds Exercise.  I presented the background work recently in my Part I post.  Part II contains a Concept Plan Map and a discussion of the more particular information and data that led me to the Plan. 

 

Both Parts I and Part II are only a condensed version of the full text I prepared.  Within the portions I left out for this version is a considerable amount of technical information that some readers may want to see.  I will provide more of it upon request. 

 

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Structural Adaptivity, Rebalancing by Watersheds - Part I

 

One of the applications of structural adaptivity that I have presented is re-balancing our nation by major watersheds.  The benefits would be two-fold:  (1) growing our nation into urban regions where each would have resilient economic and adaptivity capacities; and (2) tying the regions to ample sources of fresh water by linking them to regional U.S. watersheds.

 

Because it would be such a large departure from recent trends and because I could discover no literature showing its possibility or desirability, I sought to perform an exercise to demonstrate its possibility.  In doing this, I am setting aside my own considerable shortcomings.  I am assuming that criticism of my arrogance in attempting such an exercise is less important than taking a step in a much-needed new direction.

 

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Structural Adaptivity Facilitation Examples - Part III

Here are my last three Facilitation Examples, proposed activities by planners and others to influence the development of the built environment toward structural adaptivity and resilience as we progress into an ever more uncertain and unpredictable future. 

 

Rethinking Homeownership.  Conventional owner-occupied land and buildings in the US many times tie the owners into long-term tenures.  It makes moves, to other locations, overly cumbersome even when such moves are in the occupants’ best interests.  Adaptivity requires the ability to make quicker changes than in the past, including the self-initiated movement of people and businesses to other locations when beneficial.  Alternative types of ownership or tenure must be facilitated, types which are more adaptable to quick change.

 

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Some Examples of Structural Adaptivity - Part III

 

Here are 4 more examples of structural adaptivity for resilience.  As with the other examples presented previously, they only are intended to illustrate the concept of structural adaptivity for resilience.  They are intended to focus on the structure or structural elements of cities and/or regions.  Moreover, they are intended to demonstrate how such structural elements can be located, organized, or otherwise developed to have capacity to adapt to the continuing needs of the citizens - as the unknown and rapidly changing future unfolds.

 

Polycentric Urban Development.  Urban development need no longer be monocentric (having only one center).  In fact, such a pattern is not adaptive to meet the future.

 

Central business districts have traditionally been the home of government, financial institutions, offices, civic plazas and the like, as well as many commercial retail and services.  They have also often contained many churches, health care facilities, educational institutions, libraries, museums, convention centers, theatres, etc.

 

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