from HuffingtonPost Website
in a four-part series on the theme,
"The Third Industrial Revolution."
At the same time, economic inequality between the rich and the poor is at the highest point in human history. In 2010 the combined wealth of the 388 richest people in the world equaled the combined wealth of the poorest half of the human race (about 3.500.000.000 humans being).
By 2014 the wealth of the 80 richest
individuals in the world equaled the combined wealth of the poorest
half of the human race.
Climate scientists report that the global atmospheric concentration of carbon, which ranged from about 180 to 300 parts per million for the past 650,000 years, has risen from 280 ppm just before the outset of the industrial era to 400 ppm in 2013.
The atmospheric concentrations of
methane and nitrous oxide, the other two powerful global warming
gases, are showing similar steep trajectories.
Even a 3.5 degree rise, however, would
take us back to the temperature on Earth several million years ago,
in the Pliocene epoch, with devastating consequences to ecosystems
and human life.
Now, six years later, the sharp rise in the use of carbon-based fuels has pushed up the atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide far more quickly than earlier models had projected, making it likely that the temperature on Earth will rush past the 3.5 degree target and could top off at 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit (4.8 degrees Celsius) by 2100 - temperatures not seen on Earth for millions of years.
(Remember, anatomically modern human
beings - the youngest species - have only inhabited the planet
for '195,000 years or so'.)
Ours is a watery planet. The Earth's diverse ecosystems have evolved over geological time in direct relationship to precipitation patterns. Each rise in temperature of 1 degree Celsius results in a 7 percent increase in the moisture-holding capacity of the atmosphere. This causes a radical change in the way water is distributed, with more intense precipitation but a reduction in duration and frequency.
The consequences are already being felt in ecosystems around the world.
We are experiencing more bitter winter
snows, more dramatic spring storms and floods, more prolonged summer
droughts, more wildfires, more intense hurricanes (category 3, 4 and
5), a melting of the ice caps on the great mountain ranges and a
rise in sea levels.
The destabilization of ecosystem dynamics around the world has now pushed the biosphere into the sixth extinction event of the past 450 million years of life on Earth. In each of the five previous extinctions, Earth's climate reached a critical tipping point, throwing the ecosystems into a positive feedback loop, leading to a quick wipeout of the planet's biodiversity.
On average, it took upward of 10 million years to recover the lost biodiversity.
Biologists tell us that we could see the extinction of half the Earth's species by the end of the current century, resulting in a barren new era that could last for millions of years.
James Hansen, the former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, forecasts a rise in the Earth's temperature of 4 degrees Celsius between now and the turn of the century - and with it, the end of human civilization as we've come to know it.
The only hope, according to Hansen, is
to reduce the current concentration of carbon in the atmosphere from
400 ppm to 350 ppm or less.
make camp in the ruins of their neighborhood
on the outskirts of Tacloban, central Philippines.
The European Union is embarking on a bold new course to create a high-tech 21st century smart green digital economy, making Europe potentially the most productive commercial space in the world and the most ecologically sustainable society on Earth.
The plan is called DigitalEurope.
The EU vision of a green digital economy is now being embraced by China and other developing nations around the world. The digitalization of Europe involves much more than providing universal broadband, free Wi-Fi and a flow of big data.
The digital economy will revolutionize every commercial sector, disrupt the workings of virtually every industry, bring with it unprecedented new economic opportunities, put millions of people back to work, democratize economic life and create a more sustainable low-carbon society to mitigate climate change.
Equally important, this new economic
narrative is being accompanied by a new biosphere consciousness, as
the human race begins to perceive the Earth as its indivisible
community. We are each beginning to take on our responsibilities as
stewards of the planetary ecosystems that sustain all of life.
Every great economic paradigm requires three elements, each of which interacts with the other to enable the system to operate as a whole:
In the 19th century, steam-powered printing and the telegraph, abundant coal and locomotives on national rail systems gave rise to the First Industrial Revolution.
In the 20th century, centralized electricity, the telephone, radio and television, cheap oil and internal combustion vehicles on national road systems converged to create an infrastructure for the Second Industrial Revolution.
The digitalized communication Internet is converging with a digitalized, renewable "Energy Internet" and a digitalized, automated "Transportation and Logistics Internet" to create a super "Internet of Things" infrastructure.
In the Internet of Things era, sensors will be embedded into every device and appliance, allowing them to communicate with each other and Internet users, providing up-to-the-moment data on the managing, powering and moving of economic activity in a smart Digital Europe.
Currently, billions of sensors are attached to resource flows, warehouses, road systems, factory production lines, the electricity transmission grid, offices, homes, stores and vehicles, continually monitoring their status and performance and feeding big data back to the,
By 2030, it is estimated there will be more than 100 trillion sensors connecting the human and natural environment in a global distributed intelligent network.
For the first time in history, the
entire human race can collaborate directly with one another,
democratizing economic life.
satellite-based communications for aid organizations,
the United Nations and emerging markets.
(Photo by Sean
The European Commission has already begun to address these issues by establishing the broad principle that,
In this expanded digital economy, private enterprises connected to the Internet of Things can use Big Data and analytics to develop algorithms that speed efficiency, increase productivity and dramatically lower the marginal cost of producing and distributing goods and services, making European businesses more competitive in an emerging post-carbon global marketplace.
(Marginal cost is the cost of producing
an additional unit of a good or service, after fixed costs have been
Already, a digital generation is producing and sharing music, videos, news blogs, social media, free e-books, massive open online college courses and other virtual goods at near zero marginal cost.
The near zero marginal cost phenomenon
brought the music industry to its knees, shook the television
industry, forced newspapers and magazines out of business and
crippled the book publishing market.
But, until recently, they have argued that the productivity advances of the digital economy would not pass across the firewall from the virtual world to the brick-and-mortar economy of energy, and physical goods and services.
That firewall has now been breached.
The evolving Internet of Things will allow conventional businesses enterprises, as well as millions of prosumers, to make and distribute their own renewable energy, use driverless electric and fuel-cell vehicles in automated car-sharing services and manufacture an increasing array of 3-D-printed physical products and other goods at very low marginal cost in the market exchange economy, or at near zero marginal cost in the Sharing Economy, just as they now do with information goods.