Peter Ward, Ph.D – Paleontologist, Author of On Methuselah’s Trail: Living Fossils and the Great Extinctions, Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle
First, I believe that the tragic weather upheavals that marked 2011 will continue.
Secondly, I hope that world citizenry does not continue to equate “connected-ness” with conservation in any way. It is currently fashionable to be green. And it is fashionable to own every new device that Steve Jobs conceived of so as to be plugged into at all times. We may find the two to be mutually exclusive by the end of this century. Our total immersion and merging of entertainment and communication comes at a high price in terms of the global atmosphere – every electronic music, video player, telephone, computer and automobile requires ever more electricity, which pumps ever larger amounts of greenhouse gases into the global atmosphere. Being online 24/7 could very well bring a total off-line by 2047. We do NOT want to go forward into the past – into global carbon dioxide levels that occurred more than 60 million years ago, a state we are but 50 to 75 years away from. Those conditions were such that no ice could exist on the planet. Melting the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets is not a way to keep stable real estate prices in the world’s coastal cities.
For my part, I have been asked to determine whether the 500 million year old living fossil Nautilus (see photo) is disappearing faster than we scientists can study them, due to overfishing. I suspect we as a species could learn a thing or two from a survivor of the last half billion years – if we do not wipe them out first for cheap trinkets and jewelry made from the iconic, spiraled shells.