Friday, 18 November 2016

Specialist #4: I Dyed My Hair; People Started Asking Questions (Land-system Change)

Bluey here,

I visited specialist Dr Barnosky et al again yesterday but thankfully, this time a different assistant was present, Nurse Ellis et al. My spray tan and dyed blonde hair (Land-system change) were the primary discussion points, separate but seemingly related to my previous visit, regarding my low-white-blood-count (Biodiversity loss). I was curious to visit Dr Barnosky again, especially in wake of Dr Brook's revelation that terrestrial biosphere 'tipping points' were not as likely as Dr Barnosky had originally made out.

Nurse Ellis dusted off my records, and explained how the last three centuries had witnessed dramatic change (equivalent to the land change from my last glacial to interglacial transition when 30% of my terrestrial surface changed composition). This is further confirmed in my results below.

Barnosky's 'Quantifying Land Use' (Source: Nature)

Nurse Ellis went on to explain the concept of 'anthromes' to me. It came as no surprise—'anthro' was now well and truly part of my vocab. I gleaned three further themes from my conversation with Nurse Ellis:
  1. I've rapidly transitioned from a wild, 'seminatural' state to a 'used state', due to transformation of previously wild terrain (~50%) & from land-use intensification in seminatural anthromes (~50%).
  2. Humans have proliferated everywhere; only certain parts e.g. northern Eurasia, eastern U.S.A and small pockets of sub-Saharan Africa have shown resilience to humans.
  3. Approximately 85% of my 'wilderness' is now situated in cold/dry biomes, thus human attention should predicate on managing and restoring biodiversity within "complex multifunctional anthropogenic landscape mosaics that will be the predominant form of terrestrial ecosystems today and into the future."
No major surprises there. Now for Dr Barnosky's results:

Medical Report Card 4 - Land-system change

While I agree mostly with Dr Barnosky, especially with his worries around human population and their 'commandeering' of much of my global NPP, I believe he overstates the 'radical shift' problem slightly, as confirmed by Dr Brook. Although he acknowledges "considerable uncertainty remains about whether it is inevitable", I side more with Dr Brooks 'regional emphasis' on this point, in large due to a lack of teleconnection between my continents and as he says, the "spatial heterogeneity in drivers and responses".

I also think Dr Barnosky doesn't concentrate enough on my most important biomes. I'm coming to really appreciate GP Steffen's control variable of forest cover, rather than that used by my previous GP, Dr Rockstrom, of cropland. The Land-use change I'm now most worried about—from my planetary perspective—is the deforesting of vast swathes of my forest biomes, particularly its tropical elements. This has far-ranging implications for my climate, which I'm now thinking could be my biggest planetary problem.

'Land-use Matters' (Source: Nature)

Despite my concerns with Dr Barnosky regarding the veracity of his speculations, he has reinforced for me that, while humans are present, my body must adjust to having up to 70% of my terrestrial biosphere used directly by them. That fact itself could nigh on be a 'tipping point' for me due to how unpredictable their management of these 'novel anthromes' will undoubtedly be.

Yours for awhile,


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