April 29, 2011

Ehrlich says climate disruption means sea change for humanity

"Human beings have gone far beyond the long-term carrying capacity of the planet," says Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich. "Human beings are relying on capital and not the flow of interest from our capital."

Erlich spoke during Earth Month at Emory, giving the 2011 Rhodes Lecture presented by the Department of Biology. His talk on April 27 centered around major issues threatening our environment.

Ehrlich says one of the issues we are facing is climate disruption, which leads to the rise in sea levels. This wouldn't just affect people around the world, but also migration patterns.

"If we don't change our ways, it is inevitable they will be changed for us."

Most importantly, it will affect agriculture and how we grow our food. To combat this, Ehrlich says we need to completely rebuild our water infrastructure, which will prove to be difficult since sea levels will continue to change. Therefore, a plan that allows room for adaption will be needed. Ehrlich also notes that this may not even be the biggest problem associated with climate disruption.

Other environmental threats Ehrlich talked about were consumption, population size, and toxicity levels. Some of the solutions he discussed can be applied to multiple environmental problems.

Erlich says the most important solution is to revise the current education system to take care of the culture gap. He also suggests working on governance at the international level. As changes cannot be made one a country at a time, there must be a more effective way for the world to come together and address the issues that affect the entire world and not just the United States.

Ehrlich says that it is crucial to change the way we consume natural resources. He refers back to World War II, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the United States stopped making automobiles and instead started to ration gasoline and rubber for the war effort.

"If we don't change our ways, it is inevitable they will be changed for us," says Ehrlich. 

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