There are moments in history that are of enormous importance to human civilization and there are places where historic events occur that are forever associated with major achievements. If the data sets and the growing understandings gathered here are able to inform wise and effective policy choices on a planetary scale, then the 20th Convening of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima in December 2014, will be viewed as one of these extremely significant events.

I have had the extreme privilege over the last 20 years to personally investigate and document Earth Ecological systems throughout the world. I know firsthand that further climate changes will increase the ravages of extreme and erratic weather events, the very real impacts of biodiversity loss and the heartbreaking reality of food insecurity and loss of wellbeing for billions of people worldwide. Yet personally, Lima was a turning point where my understanding of certain things, which had been somewhat vaguely defined, came into very clear focus.

Thanks to the repeated efforts of Michael Wadleigh, an Oscar winning film director, physicist and impassioned volunteer, who presented graphic representations of the IPCC data of the negotiating stances of the countries in regards to limiting their national emissions, it became clear how far we are from a sustainable solution. Michael showed that at the current global emissions of 11 Gigatons per year we have only a little more than 20 years before we cross the 247 Gigaton point where the IPCC says the Earth’s climate will exceed 2 degrees of warming. This fact suggests that human civilization will be transformed either by consciously changing our society and our economy immediately or by collapsing our ecosystem and watching human civilization as we know it end in extreme disruptions that are simply too painful to describe.