Study Predicts Imminent Irreversible Planetary Collapse

by Anne Mooers /SFU News Online

Using scientific theories, toy ecosystem modeling and paleontological evidence as a crystal ball, 18 scientists, including an SFU professor, predict the Earth’s ecosystems are careering towards an imminent, irreversible collapse.

In Approaching a state-shift in Earth’s biosphere, a paper just published in Nature, the authors examine the Earth’s accelerating loss of biodiversity, increasingly extreme climate fluctuations, its ecosystems’ growing connectedness and its radically changing total energy budget. They suggest these are all precursors to reaching a planetary state threshold or tipping point.

Once that happens, which the authors predict could be this century, the planet’s ecosystems, as we know them, could quickly and irreversibly collapse.

“The last tipping point in Earth’s history occurred about 12,000 years ago when the planet went from being in the age of glaciers, which previously lasted 100,000 years, to being in its current interglacial state,” says Arne Mooers, SFU professor of biodiversity. “Once that tipping point was reached, the most extreme biological changes leading to our current state occurred within only 1,000 years. That’s like going from a baby to an adult state in less than a year. Importantly, the planet is changing even faster now.”

Mooers is one of the paper’s authors. He stresses, “The odds are very high that the next global state change will be extremely disruptive to our civilizations. Remember, we went from being hunter-gatherers to being moon-walkers during one of the most stable and benign periods in all of Earth’s history.

“Once a threshold-induced planetary state-shift occurs, there’s no going back. So, if a system switches to a new state because you’ve added lots of energy, even if you take out the new energy, it won’t revert back to the old system. The planet doesn’t have any memory of the old state.”

These projections contradict the popularly held belief that the extent to which human-induced pressures, such as climate change, are destroying our planet is still debatable, and any collapse would be both gradual and centuries away.

This study concludes we had better not transform the Earth’s surface by more than 50 per cent or we won’t be able to delay, never mind avert, a planetary collapse.

We’ve already reached the 43-per-cent mark through converting landscapes into agricultural and urban areas, making Earth increasingly susceptible to an environmental epidemic.

“In a nutshell, humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst because the social structures for doing something just aren’t there,” says Mooers. “My colleagues who study climate-induced changes through the earth’s history are more than pretty worried. In fact, some are terrified.”


Posted in News.


  1. And then the experiment in great big brains will come to an end.

    Read Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Galapagos for a hopeful vision of the future aquatic beings we become again.

  2. The only comfort to be found in the spectacular failure of the human race to survive in the most benign garden possible is that our greed addled decline will almost certainly keep us from damaging other jewels in space like this one

  3. Humans will once again move underground until it is safe to go topside again…
    The first people will have darker skins and the last people to go topside will have the lightest skins. The dark skined people will be those exiled from below (but the elders know that they are using them as expirments to see if it is safe to go outside or if they must stay below. PRIOR to going topside, above ground, all people look the same, qiote light skinned and blond haired.

    SiFi? History repeates itself over and over again…

    • PS: Malcoim, I agree 110%. We are no smarter than bacteria or a cancer moving from one cell to another IF we move from our one solar system to another and pollute its air, water, land as well as suck every drop of oil, gold, etc out of it that we can… OIL is there for a reason,,, etc,,,

      LOL Imagine our sucking one drop too much of oil out and then we hear a loud worldwide squeeking sound as the center of the earth stops turning LOL:-)n Unforseen consequences will bite you in the butt everytime. Cars were invented but no one could imagine the pollution thereof for no one dreamed that 6 billion people would be using them…

      Drive 2 miles and then look back. THAT is the breathable air around our small planet. Now imagine, pollution from Red China already reaches our USA shores as it circles the earth. The puss we have created will choke us into death. The earth will recover but will we learn that the next time we re-invent electricity,,, to simply decide that we can do without it? Not likely…

  4. Pingback: Tipping the Bucket - Compatible Creatures

  5. All of these replies and outlooks are ridiculous. You are so full of your own high and mighty ideas, you deny any real science. You are making huge leaps and pure guesses. If you are going to make such outlandish accusations try posting some links to your scientific explanations which support your theory.

    • absolutely. anyone can make percentage and graph models to represent Anything. this is politically and religiously motivated Crap.

  6. Another “Theory” (non provable scientific idea) mixed with “toy ecosystem modeling ” (garbage in, garbage out) because man cannot envision all variables for input into a modeling system for predictive outcomes. As many models produced over the years are an equal number of predictable outcomes all decrying eminent doom to mankind and mother earth. Science is so much fun!!!

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