Here are the slides for a 15-minute talk I’m giving on Friday for the Interdisciplinary Climate Change Workshop at the Balsillie School of International Affairs:
This will be the first talk of the workshop. Many participants are focused on diplomacy and economics. None are officially biologists or ecologists. So, I want to set the stage with a broad perspective that fits humans into the biosphere as a whole.
I claim that climate change is just one aspect of something bigger: a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene.
I start with evidence that human civilization is having such a big impact on the biosphere that we’re entering a new geological epoch.
Then I point out what this implies. Climate change is not an isolated ‘problem’ of the sort routinely ‘solved’ by existing human institutions. It is part of a shift from the exponential growth phase of human impact on the biosphere to a new, uncharted phase.
In this new phase, institutions and attitudes will change dramatically, like it or not:
• Before we could treat ‘nature’ as distinct from ‘civilization’. Now, there is no nature separate from civilization.
• Before, we might imagine ‘economic growth’ an almost unalloyed good, with many externalities disregarded. Now, many forms of growth have reached the point where they push the biosphere toward tipping points.
In a separate talk I’ll say a bit about ‘what we can do about it’. So, nothing about that here. You can click on words in blue to see sources for the information.