Free-Fall – Last Call –  The Sixth  (Anthropocene) Extinction

A series of postings offering perspective and commentary on art and global environmental issues

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Eclipse 11-12-04 , 11/12/04, 9:23 PM, 8C, 7448x8936 (1874+1448), 133%, Repro 11.10.04, 1/8 s, R70.8, G33.1, B34.9
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A new era of environmental patterns on planet earth is unfolding. Hard to deny.

It’s not coming or going to happen. It is here and it is happening. We are well into it. All life on the planet is being affected now. There are no safe havens . . . no unsullied habitats. There is only fact and fiction.

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 The comfort of deferring new mandates for behavioral change is no longer available. That ship has long since sailed. The environmental balance that provided sustainable life has been unbalanced and continues to destabilize in accelerating free – fall. The planet’s ecosystem can no longer absorb the cumulative effects of destructive human activity without unraveling in apparent chaos as it ultimately seeks a new balance.

Facts:

  • Shrinking Biodiversity – It is estimated that animal populations shrank 70% over the past 50 years.

“The message is clear and the lights are flashing red,” said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini. According to the United Nations recent climate report, up to one million species are threatened with extinction, many within decades.

  • Ocean Acidification – Like a sponge, oceans are absorbing increasing amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. Concentrations are now the highest in the past 800,000 years, and the current rate of increase is likely unprecedented in history. Combined with an overwhelming  volume of trash and chemical pollution, a sea change which threatens the future of all marine life and, in turn, food security, livelihoods and local to global economies is underway and accelerating rapidly.
  • Deforestation and Destruction of Natural   Habitats – Over the decade since 2010, the UN FAO estimate that 10 million hectares of forest were cut down each year, (roughly  the area of 14 million football fields).

Up to 28,000 species can go extinct in the next quarter century due to deforestation.

By the year 2030, we might only have 10% of Rainforests left and it can all disappear rapidly.

Banks such as JPMorgan, HSBC, and Bank of America financed $119 billion to Companies linked to deforestation. There is a glaring lack of monitoring and enforcing mechanisms in the financial sector, allowing widespread land degradation to persist. 

  • Rising Sea Levels – The trends are worrisome. Almost all projections based on computer simulations and models  to project ice melt rates have been shattered by unanticipated acceleration due to the interplay of unknown / unforeseen variables. Efforts to slow climate change won’t do much to postpone it given the inertia of ocean warming and ice melt.
  • No Pause or Reset Button – Despite all warnings, scientific reports and international agreements, the human activities causing environmental destabilization and consequently climate change have not stopped or even slowed down. In fact, they have accelerated . . . ramped up to new levels.
  •  Promises, Commitments, Pledges –  by world leadershave proven to be meaningless and empty.  Politicians don’t call the shots. They function to smooth the path for the real shot callers . . . industrial giants that finance and basically own them. How is this for a stunning example . . . the Cop28 climate talks later this year will be chaired by the head of the United Emirates state – owned oil company.
  • A Positive Opportunity Exists – From a distance, it would seem as though the entire human population, has subconsciously acted to create an environment to drive its own ultimate evolutionary shift. The human herd has rather swiftly put into motion severe, adverse environmental changes which, in turn, could serve as the springboard to its own rapid, adaptive change . . . in order to survive a  disaster of its own making. It has, in a sense, engineered the conditions necessary to trip its own awakening, evolution and emergence as a viable species.

This perspective is very appealing. It implies that, even at its worst moments, human history has unfolded with universal intelligence guiding it at some subliminal level. If we adopt a position that there are no coincidences, no chance outcomes, that the evolution of the universe, in all of its aspects is guided by an intelligent force, then it is, of course, true that we are here, where we are now, by design.

Proceeding from this assumption, should not leave us smug or confident that we will be delivered. This viewpoint offers hope, nothing more. The dice have been rolled but they are still tumbling. The final act has not  played out . . . yet.

Fiction:

We Can Fix It –  Perhaps the most glaring fiction of all. There has always been an element of misguided confidence, even hubris in the notion that our superior intellects give us the ability to control natural events. The belief that our science and technology, which are clearly capable of phenomenal destruction, are equally capable of restoring nature to a state of health is fiction bordering on delusion.

We cannot :

  • Re – Freeze the polar ice caps.
  • Resurrect casually annihilated natural habitats and species which took millions of years to evolve.
  • Reset / rebalance the infinite, linked factors and forces that determine planetary climate.
  • Create models and simulations which accurately project time frames for natural processes to occur, e.g. melt rates of polar ice, rising ocean levels, extinction of species, etc. Computer modeling, can only encompass a finite, limited number of variables. Environmental change involves an infinite number of dynamically linked variables which are largely unknowable.

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Joseph Carlisi – Biography     

Born and raised in New York City, he earned BA and MA degrees in Philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York and then continued his graduate studies in Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology working under the mentorship of Marvin Minsky. Joseph worked as a part time content and copy editor for Harvard University Press (science and medicine) while attending M.I.T.     

After ten years as a university lecturer, researcher and administrator, he started and managed an advertising / public relations firm in San Diego, CA that handled a wide range of commercial accounts. On the academic side, he published a series of seven articles on animal behavior for Harvard Magazine and two books: “A Guide to Personal Power” and most recently “Playing God on the Eve of Extinction”.

Joseph Carlisi creates oil on canvas paintings that can be described as vivid, surreal and unexpected. His paintings have been exhibited and sold in: Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, Miami, Tokyo, Yokohama, Amsterdam, Berlin and Salvador Brazil.

Joe’s art is available for purchase.

Contact him at carlisijoseph@yahoo.com.

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Born and raised in New York City, he earned BA and MA degrees in Philosophy at Hunter College of the City University of New York and then continued his graduate studies in Philosophy and Artificial Intelligence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology working under the mentorship of Marvin Minsky. Joseph worked as a part time content and copy editor for Harvard University Press (science and medicine) while attending M.I.T. After ten years as a university lecturer, researcher and administrator, he started and managed an advertising / public relations firm in San Diego, CA that handled a wide range of commercial accounts. On the academic side, he published a series of seven articles on animal behavior for Harvard Magazine and two books: “A Guide to Personal Power” and most recently “Playing God on the Eve of Extinction”. Joseph Carlisi creates oil on canvas paintings that can be described as vivid, surreal and unexpected. His paintings have been exhibited and sold in: Honolulu, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, Miami, Tokyo, Yokohama, Amsterdam, Berlin and Salvador Brazil. Joe’s art is available for purchase.

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