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Seven Tipping Points for Environmental Survival

Environmental scientists are talking about tipping points: certain aspects of the earth's environment that, if damaged or changed beyond a certain point, could become nearly irreversible. This would doom the inhabitants of earth to a terribly difficult existence. These tipping points are the stratosphere, land use, fresh water use, climate change, species extinction, phosphate/nitrogen balance and health of the oceans.
Environmental scientists are talking about tipping points: certain aspects of the earth's environment that, if damaged or changed beyond a certain point, could become nearly irreversible. This would doom the inhabitants of earth to a terribly difficult existence. These tipping points are the stratosphere, land use, fresh water use, climate change, species extinction, phosphate/nitrogen balance and health of the oceans.

Currently matters are getting worse in all seven of these areas. Now the question is at what point is there no return? When, for example, would it be too late to reverse the loss of land suitable for agriculture? When would the oceans become so overwhelmed with waste that they could no longer support food chains?

We hear news often enough about stratosphere and climate change concerns. We hear less news about freshwater use and health of the oceans, and almost nothing about the other three. It is now thought that hundreds, if not thousands, of species end on earth each year. The balance of phosphate/nitrogen is deemed critical for growth of vegetation. And indiscriminate land use each year shrinks the amount of land available for crops.

Two things threaten the environment: population growth and industrialization. There are six billion people on earth, soon to be nine billion. Mostly we are crowded into large cities and certain areas of the world. The road out of the poverty this creates is industrialization. Industrialization provides necessities and amenities: food, medicine, clothing, building materials, communication systems, energy, fuel and innumerable other items that several centuries ago were not even imagined.

Industrialization and large populations are here to stay. What may or may not be here to stay is the environmental downside these have created. About that we still have a choice.

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