By 2025, just 13 years from now, humans will have modified half of all the land on Earth. We will have turned space that once supported complicated systems of plants, animals, soils, water and microbes into cities or farms. Already, we’ve taken over 43 percent of the land. What’s left is mostly criss-crossed by our roads. By 2060, 70 percent of the earth’s surface could be covered with human development.
According to the group of more than 20 scientists responsible for these observations, published this week in Nature, these shifts could also be pushing the Earth toward a tipping point — a round of irreversible planet-wide changes. During the last great transformation of the planet, when miles upon miles of ice receded and left the planet in its current interglacial states, about 30 percent of the planet’s surface transitioned from ice-covered wasteland to landscapes more closely resembling the ones we know today. The shifts that we humans are responsible for are more dramatic and are happening faster.
At base, the scientists argue, a growing population of humans and our ravenous consumption of resources is driving these changes. There are so many of us that we’re changing and breaking up habitats, hustling to use up energy sources wherever we can find them, and changing the climate by throwing carbon into the atmosphere. It’s not clear how much of the earth’s surface we would have to change dramatically for the rest of the planet to give over to whatever new state of affairs we’ve cast headlong into. It may not happen at all. But if it does, the Nature report says, it will be “extremely difficult or even impossible for the system to return to its previous state.”
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004:
The Center for Constitutional Rights, the outfit representing the Gitmo detainees, will announce a RICO lawsuit against the CACI and TITAN mercenary outfits. The two companies former a joint "Team Titan" to provide "interrogation" services to the US military.
These are the Abu Grahib post-Saddam torturers.
The lawsuit will rest, at least in part (leaked details are sketchy), on the Alien Tort Claims Act, which allows non-US nationals access to U.S. courts. The Bush Administration has requested the Supreme Court rule this law, passed by the first Congress, unconstitutional. RICO statutes and the 14th Amendment promise to play a role as well. [...]
Incidentally, CCR has also posted the full "the president is king and can subvert US law in regards to torture" memo. This is the same memo that Ashcroft refused to release to angry Democratic senators.