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Threshold effects in the climate regulation and ecological systems

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  • francis cote
    James Lovelock in Gaia, Practical Science of Plnetary Medecine, Gaia Books, 2000 - the following is from the the French edition, Gaia, une médecine pour la
    Message 1 of 1 , May 8, 2003
      James Lovelock in Gaia, Practical Science of Plnetary Medecine, Gaia Books,
      2000 - the following is from the the French edition, Gaia, une médecine pour
      la planète, Sang de la Terre, 2001, page 149:

      ''The Serbian metereologist Milutin Milankovitch observed that variations
      in the shape of the earth's orbit and its tilt produced periodic variations
      in the total amount of solar energy received as well as changes in the
      relative distribution of heat between North and South hemispheres.. The
      amplitude of the variations in solar energy is not, in itself, sufficient to
      account for the transition of glaciation/ interglacial warming. However, the
      synchronicity between cyclic orbital variations and glacial cycles strongly
      suggest that the Milankovitch effect acts as a trigger''. ''TRIGGER'', the
      critical word.

      Once a sytem wanders deeply enough into a threshold separating two
      different modes of functioning, it may not be possible to 'pull it back' to
      safety again. How do stop an avalanche once you set it off? - that is, once
      you have TRIGGERed it.
      A car taking a corner too fast on wet pavement is another good example.
      The tires hold till the upper limit of rolling friction is reached. The
      tires break free when this limit is exceeded and the car rapidly shifts from
      State 1 - in control - to State 2 - out of control. There is enough evidence
      to suggest that limits of this sort exist - and are rapidly being approached
      - in several important 'parameters'of earth's life support system. We are
      witnessing localized 'brown-outs', or geographically restricted systemic
      breakdowns already:

      - great famines in 18-20th century India and China (modern technol. has
      provided termporary stop gap relief, but for how long given that such
      technology is based on non-sustainable resource utilization??)

      - collapse of cod stocks off Canada's east coast (when Europeans arrived
      cod were so plentiful that 'rivers of fish in the sea' slowed the progress
      of ships, this week Canada placed the cod - unbelievably - on the ENDANGERED
      SPECIES LIST).

      - examples can be multiplied ad nauseam

      Why are these questions not addressed in the media?

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