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Tweeting the New Normal

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The irony was not lost on the 300 or so environmental scientists, policy makers, activists and citizens who gathered earlier this week at the Aspen Institute for three days of solution-seeking around the theme, "Living in the New Normal." Even as participants in Aspen Environment Forum 2012 shared information, ideas and opinions, haze from the forest fires currently ravaging Colorado hung over the nearby mountains. This, more than one participant commented, is the new normal: uncertainty, extremes, unpredictability, unexpected turns of events - all brought on by humans' fiddling with the dials of nature on a grandiose scale.

Of course it's relatively easy to talk about troubles. But that's not what AEF2012 was about. The forum focused not only on defining the new normal, but also on exploring what we ought to do about it. Should we let us take it where it will? Or should we engage? Will we be tossed about like ships at sea? Or will we work to understand the changes taking shape, and shape our own activities to make both most compatible with the preservation of life on Earth?

Perhaps the best way to get a sampling of the conversations is to pull some participant quotes and paraphrases from the Twitter stream (#AEF2012):

If we continue at the present rate of eliminating species, half of them will be gone by the end of the century. - E.O. Wilson

The bulk of the credit for maintaining a planet that works goes to a living ocean. - Sylvia Earle

60,000-90,000 years ago, there may have only been 600-2,000 human beings. We were an endangered species at one time. - Richard Potts

‎‏ We *have* to figure out how to close the gap - to bring environmental externalities into pricing. - Jason Clay

The past is no longer any guide for the future. This planet (w/new climate, biosphere, land use, ocean acidification) is new. - Jon Foley

Abruptness in climate change creates largely unpredictable side-effects. - William Calvin

Eating tuna is like eating something that feeds on dragons. Very high on the food chain. - Daniel Pauly

What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic. - Neal Conan

If you're pro-free market and ignore biggest market failure on planet (CO2), you have a problem. - Gernot Wagner

We have the tools at our disposal to end overfishing. We should start tackling the problem now. - Miguel Jorge

Comparing block to block, house to house, there is 7% greater property value to tree lined streets. - Rohit Aggarwala

In public's eye, pollution is top ocean problem. In reality, it's #3, behind overfishing & climate change. - Ayana Johnson

When you say "climate" it turns people off because they fear they'll have to reduce their quality of life. - Heidi Cullen

Not climate change or global warming, but planetary destabilization. - David Orr

‎‏The future of America is networked resilient communities. - John Robb

Never eat shrimp: either caught with 90% bycatch net, or in mangrove-destroying aquaculture. - Ayana Johnson

We have to be careful about what we can measure and what matters - Daniel Pauly

We need to make climate an economic issue, because it is. - Mindy Lubber

The notion that our emergence occurred during the most violent period of climate fluctuation means that we're able to adapt. - Richard Potts

We need to preserve ecosystems as working systems, for us to learn from and emulate in the Anthropocene. Not keep as museum pieces. - Jon Foley

Don't fish, you have zero fish. Fish too much, you have zero fish. Sustainable fishing is in between. - Daniel Pauly

Smart growth is the greatest technology we have to fight climate change, and its not in any of the books. - Peter Calthorpe

Trawling is like using a bulldozer to catch songbirds. - Sylvia Earle

The past can no longer be a guide to the future.- Dennis Dimick

No farmer is going to invest in sustainability if they don't have land rights. - Jason Clay

Let's celebrate successes in sustainable agriculture - and scale them up. - Chris Reij

U.S. agricultural research budget has gone to hell in a handbasket. - Dan Glickman

‎‏Something that people often miss: resilience doesn't just mean strengthened rule of law, it also means stronger civil society. - Jamais Cascio

We thought the ocean was too big to fail. Now we know otherwise. - Sylvia Earle

Why should unsustainable products cost less? They should cost more because they are subsidized by nature. - Jason Clay

If there's an elephant in the room with the global food system, it's a cow. - Jon Foley

Like to learn more? Check out video of select AEF2012 panel presentations here.

1 Comment

I think that we all know that in this race for money
that the human race will ultimately come last,its time we realised what is important.

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Hoff published on June 29, 2012 2:16 PM.

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