Climate change: it's already happening
This past Thursday, Feb. 2, members of the community gathered in the basement of Barrels Market in downtown Waterville to hear Alder Stone Fuller discuss the disturbing reality behind climate change. “Let me warn you,” Fuller said in his opening remarks, “you may have had your last good night’s sleep.”
Fuller, who has taught in colleges and secondary schools across the country, currently considers himself an “independent educator,” and his lecture was designed to encourage enrollment in his larger, 12-hour seminar entitled “Gaia 101: Understanding Abrupt Climate Change Using System Science and Geophysiology.”
Fuller used detailed slides to illustrate and explain what he calls the “dark side of climate change,” a side that is “abrupt, chaotic, extreme and will change the course of civilization by 2050.” He introduced this change in terms of Gaia, or earth’s planetary-scale homeostasis and metabolism. “Gaia isn’t religion or mysticism,” Fuller said, dispelling preconceived notions about the concept that is named after a Greek Goddess. Instead, Gaia is science that is “compatible with physics, chemistry and biology,” he said.
Gaia is the idea that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings form a self-regulating system that maintains conditions for life on earth, and understanding this idea is important to understanding climate change. According to Fuller, “climate change is a symptom of the destruction of [Gaia, or] Earth’s natural processes.”
“We are already past the tipping point,” Fuller said, using statistics to support the unprecedented increase in average temperatures in recent years that has disrupted Gaia’s natural cycle and thereby setting in motion a variety of processes that cannot be reversed. “Even if we stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow,” it will not do enough, Fuller said, explaining that the carbon dioxide that is responsible for these high temperatures will remain in the atmosphere for over 100 years.
That is not to say “we should not do everything in our power to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” Fuller said, clarifying that the change “is not an apocalypse, it’s an adventure.” The 21st century will be a “wild ride,” Fuller said, as it will be hotter, wetter and shift more violently between weather patterns.
So what can the public do about it? “Attending this seminar is the first step,” Fuller said, preaching the importance of environmental education. “It’s not doom or gloom,” Fuller said, but rather a question of flexibility and innovation. “The food growers are the people who most need to hear this,” Fuller said, because it is quickly becoming harder and harder for them to depend on stable rainfall. “They need to plan,” he said.
Thankfully, Fuller joked, “Maine [with its cooler temperatures and relatively protected coastline] is a favorable place for the coming climate change.”