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Safeguarding the Future

We have left the Holocene and the “safe operating space for humanity” it provided us. The Holocene, the last geological epoch that began about 11,700 years ago, had an exceptionally stable climate that allowed human beings to settle in one place for a long time and to learn agriculture. With 6,000 years of a stable sea level humans were able to build long-term settlements in river deltas and benefit from the rich ecosystem services and logistical advantages of being at a river and the coast.

During the last century, many things have changed: we grew in numbers several 1000 times faster than before, our energy usage grew 5,000 times faster, and inequality among humans grew 100 times faster. These rapid changes led to an increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide a 1,000 times faster than before, temperature changed more than 100 times faster, and extinction rates of at risk species increased dramatically. While we have seen many environmental factors changing rapidly, others are lagging behind and will soon exhibit accelerated changes. Sea level in particular has the potential to rise rapidly and threaten our global society.

We have replaced the time of stability by a time of rapid change, making the future for our children very uncertain. Safeguarding the future requires a major paradigm shift in which we work towards slowing down these rapid changes, to realize a new equilibrium with the planet. Our economy needs to safeguard the Earth’s life-support systems on which we and all future generations depend, instead of aiming for more wealth for a few. Our goal needs to be equity among humans both in time and space.

Tiwah engages in international collaborative research to find ways for humanity to thrive without degrading the Earth’s life support systems. Tiwah initiates and supports activities that inform and enable decision making for a safe journey into the uncertain future of the Post-Holocene.