Embrace the Coming Ecological Inflection Point and Great Transition

Earth is dying
Environmental awareness must soon reach a critical mass, whereby massive societal resources are re-allocated to scale up solutions in a great ecological transition; before biosphere, social, and economic collapse become unavoidable. An approaching ecological inflection point reflects a narrow band of opportunity to repair fragmented, quivering nature, clearly at its breaking point, before it is too late.

“Only by leaving fossil fuels in the ground and returning humanity to a sea of nature can biosphere collapse be avoided, and a sustainable future for human and all life assured.” – Dr. Glen Barry

After 25 years of ecological advocacy, I can say with certainty that I have never seen as much genuine environmental concern as I do now. This has generally not led en masse to required action such as personal dramatic emission cuts and refusal to buy all products from old-growth forests. But for the first time ecological decline including climate change is visibly apparent to a degree that it is readily known by the educated and it can’t be denied by anyone of good faith and character.
Concurrently trend lines for atmospheric and ecosystem decline are more perilous than ever. Humanity is putting the biosphere at great risk, as rampant industrial pollution and clearing of natural vegetation results in abrupt climate change occurring far faster than envisioned, and natural ecosystems are failing to provide the surrounding matrix of natural services which makes life possible.
The natural family’s only hope is that an ecological inflection point occurs, whereby the impacts of biosphere collapse become so evident – perhaps as millions die from extreme storms and other depredations – while there is still time to implement sufficient solutions. At that point the human family will howl for the necessary measures to be taken to protect and restore natural ecosystems, and end fossil fuels, on an accelerated emergency basis.
The only questions are whether as ecosystem collapse becomes ever more apparent, will we squabble for what remains as we deny ecologism, or will we remain free as we begin in earnest a great transition to green liberty? And will we have identified and prototyped, and be ready with sufficient ecological solutions, to meet human needs while maintaining a living Earth? The ecological inflection point is a narrow band of opportunity to repair fragmented, quivering nature before it is too late.
We must be ready with templates for ecological sustainability, which can employ billions, as a program of ecological restoration and energy conservation are rapidly scaled. Simultaneously a large-scale scaling down must be completed of all use of fossil fuels, as harvests of vital natural capital such as tropical timber and natural fisheries are severely restricted to allow for rejuvenation.
As ecological awareness and collapse converge in such a manner, we must be ready and able to ramp up fast enough the plethora of ecological solutions we all know about but don’t support enough. These efforts may be abetted by deep wells of global ecological resilience of which we are unaware, as the Earth is a living organism that has self-regulated for 3.5 billion year, yet whose workings remain largely unknown to her peoples.
Clearly we are already in ecological overshoot, as planetary boundaries regarding species loss, terrestrial ecosystem destruction, inequitable human overpopulation, and industrial emissions of carbon, phosphorous, and nitrogen have already been breached; and thresholds for safe levels of ozone, ocean acidity, aerosols, freshwater, and chemicals draw near.
Yet as mayhem looms, if we all came together to harness all the resources at our disposal – including from conspicuous over-consumption by the rich, and the military-industrial complex’s lucrative war making – surely we could marshal a response that allows the land, air, water, and oceans to rest, recover, and flourish thereby ensuring global ecological sustainability.
Reaching the ecological inflection point that triggers the great ecological transition before it is too late is going to require an end to greenwashing, which means accepting the gravity of our situation and necessary personal and societal changes, and confronting those that continue to greenwash for personal benefit. Celebrity climate activists jetting around to tell us to cut emissions, and large foundation fed bureaucratic environmental groups enriching themselves from old-growth forest logging, will have to be rebuked and shamed until their behavior changes.
And the voices must be amplified of those personally creating lifestyles without cars, traveling less, eating little or no meat, having one child, and limiting their consumption; and coming together to remake a society that is peaceful, just, and equitable. Ecological leadership must walk the walk.
The poor and dispossessed, as well as those that opulently overconsume, can together learn the meaning of enough. Equity does not mean everyone is equal, but everyone’s basic needs must be met as hard workers have more, but not ridiculously so to the detriment of others and the Earth. As livelihoods of the rich and the poor converge to reasonable levels of disparity, the talents of each can be harnessed to power enterprise without fossil fuels, to scale up alternative energy, even as we conserve negawatts.
Vast resources can be put into reclaiming non-productive, depauperate land with the expansion of historically accurate natural ecosystems, built upon restoring and reconnecting ecologically neglected fragments, wherever remaining natural vegetation occurs; intermingled with organic permaculture, to once again ensconce the human species within nature’s nurturing embrace. Every neighborhood and community will have their own nurseries of tree and garden plants to create agro-forestry gardens and to carry out replenishment planting to help natural vegetation fragments to expand. Much effort will be put into tending to forests and gardens.
Only by leaving fossil fuels in the ground and returning humanity to a sea of nature can biosphere collapse be avoided, and a sustainable future for human and all life assured.
As ecosystems collapse, horrendous suffering is going to become apparent. When we as a collective consciousness understand the magnitude of the situation – basically as mass human and wildlife death can no longer be ignored – we must be ready to scale proven ecological solutions swiftly and prudently. The sooner the ecological inflection point is reached, the greater likelihood we will avert complete and total biosphere collapse, and the end of being. A few extremophiles, and dandelions and cockroaches, may hang on; but complex life may end, and there is no assurance it will reemerge.
We must maximize the probability that enough nature will remain to sustain Gaia, a living Earth, which can essentially go on forever.
It is vitally important that each and every one of us commit to the great ecological transition by continuing to build awareness. That each of us becomes a leader in living well but consuming simply and with great care. And that we engage with the global growth machine to alter the means of enterprise in our image. We must work for ecological change within society and its engine of production, as only by converting business and the rich to our cause of self and ecological survival can we all prevail.
Sadly, I believe the possibility of an ecological inflection point is fading. And that the mass migration, state of perma-war, and resurgence of authoritarian fascism which we are witnessing are the result of environmental decline and resource scarcity. The sooner this can be widely recognized, the sooner we can get on with a massive program to save Earth, all her life, and thus ourselves.


  1. I’ve made a change. Becoming a vegan, buying products that are environmentally friendly, if everyone did this things would improve, but government needs to enforce companies to stop pollution

  2. Thank you. The time for half-measures is clearly over. I have tried to work patiently with Republicans, through the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, on getting a carbon tax. Even when we throw them this ‘market-driven’ solution to slow down the carbon pollution, they deliberate and compromise and whittle away, in the meantime assessing it’s political appeal for their masters. It’s as if existence itself is just bothersome if it’s not money. Ugh!
    I have been on two cross country marches now and seen and heard testimony re the destruction of our communities, including the biotic one. I have been working on shifting and educating people for a long time. I love your essay and would like to refer to it as I continue this work. If I have your permission?
    I’m giving more priority to the Climate Mobilization and the international call to declare a planetary emergency. I didn’t know if you were aware of those? Your endorsement and/or comments would be most welcome.

    1. Hi John,
      By all means use the essay as you see fit with proper credit to its author. I have long called for a declaration of planetary emergency and would endorse any such document.

  3. The current refugee crisis shows how fragile our world order really is. A severe climatic event could force 10s of millions of people to migrate and destabilize other regions. Countries might even attempt to seize control of land or resources.

  4. I have to ask you…….your posts recieve less than 100 likes per essay….sometimes its less than 10. Whilst I whole-heartedly agree with you, your efforts seem fruitless. What if you were to approach greenpeace or move-on.org to give your voice a greater audience.

    1. lol the measure of writing’s worth is not how many likes it gets. Tens of thousands read these words and are impacted. Greenpeace and Move.On are bureaucratic corporate sell-outs and not particularly interested in ecological truth.

      1. Good to know…….so are there any worthy organisations out there that you could couple with? Or maybe climate change is the 21st centuries black death.
        Yes, lots will perish………but enough will survive, so Gaia will rebalance herself anyway and life will continue. Our own lives are only important to ourselves and those closest to us. Why worry about something you have absolutely no control over? I’m sure you’ll argue we do have control over it – ie, windfarm energy etc ……..but its way more complex than that…..unless of course you can convince the world to sit in the lotus position and meditate for food.
        Personally, I’d rather make myself a frozen margarita and sit on my front porch and go…”well that was fun”

          1. Maybe so, but my attitude isn’t yours. So I assume theres no worthy organisations in the world that you couple with for a greater voice, since you ignored my main point. If there isn’t there we are screwed because you are from being the Messiah!
            I don’t believe I can affect the kind of change you are trying to achieve. I can only change my own actions re: my own ecological footprint. My partner and I share both a car and a phone and wear the same jocks for 10 days to cut down on laundry detergent amongst other things.
            I’m sure those mowed down by the Boxing Day tsunami would not agree that we have control over our destiny, or those in Sept 11 terror attacks, or, or, or, or, or.
            But good luck with your endeavours.
            With respect,
            If the world can’t find peace, it is foolish to think we agree on fossil fuels et al.

  5. At the moment the earth population has diminished to 10% of the amount it represents at this moment, nature will revive, every where on this planet.
    Were nature was left alone it thrives. (Chernobyl, East Point, Curacao under water). Old growth is part of the left alone nature.

  6. Agreed, we have only a brief window of opportunity to make the major transformation needed ahead of the alternative of drastic human suffering on a scale never previously experienced.

  7. Well said, Glen, such a shame these words continue to fall on apparently deaf political ears
    I think that we have the contradictory situation of an increasing proportion of the general public wishing to see action to reverse environmental destruction, but at the same time a greater unwillingness by many politicians and others in decision-making power, to do so. It appears that vested corporate & financial interests, very wealthy, politically powerful, and with scant regard for anything but short term profit and/or self-aggrandisment, are calling the shots; too many politicians appear subservient to them. It is heartening to see that in the USA, someone like Bernie Sanders can actually mobilise large numbers of people who want change (even though this is not especially focussed on environmental issues) – but he may not make it. To me, it looks like increased grass roots action on a large scale may be the only effective way to effect change soon enough, by making it impossible for politicians to continue ignoring “the elephant in the room”?

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