Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ecologist plays critical role in first global ecosystem study

31.03.2005


Up to 60 percent of "ecosystem services" that support life on earth, such as food, water and climate regulation, are crumbling at an unsustainable rate, members of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) project report here today (March 30). Designed to assist global policy-makers, MA is the first international study to appraise the status of Earth’s diverse ecosystems and their associated impact on human well-being.



Stephen Carpenter, a zoology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a world-renowned expert on human-ecology interactions, served on a 13-member panel of leading natural and social scientists that managed the execution of the four-year, $24 million project. Involving more than 1,300 scientists from 95 countries, the MA kicked off in 2001 under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), with financial backing from the Global Environment Facility, the UN Foundation and the World Bank, among other donors.

At the project’s helm is a board that includes representatives of international conventions, UN agencies, scientific organizations and leaders from the private sector, civil society and indigenous organizations. "The value in this initiative was that we made an attempt to be as unbiased as possible by having every bias at the table," says Carpenter.


Four working groups implemented different aspects of the immense study. Teams assessed current scientific knowledge, evolving trends and changes in ecosystem services both at the global and regional scale. Researchers also monitored strengths and weaknesses in ecosystem management strategies worldwide, and developed integrated scenarios of the future.

Carpenter co-chaired the "scenarios" group, with assistance from Elena Bennett, a UW-Madison postdoctoral researcher in ecology. With an international team of ecologists, economists, sociologists and demographers, the scenarios group surveyed about 100 industrial, government and scientific leaders to develop four plausible snapshots of the world in 2050.

What the exercise revealed is that "under certain scenarios we get favorable outcomes for human life-support, but these depend on major changes in policy, institutions and practices that are not currently under way," says Carpenter. "In other words, the future is in our hands."

In the 2050 scenario "global orchestration," world powers are implementing policies that focus on the equitable distribution of wealth and the alleviation of social problems such as poverty. Though such a trend could increase the capacity to confront environmental problems, an undue focus on social ills could reduce the emphasis on the environment and, indirectly, human well-being, write the scenario experts.

In the "techno-garden" scenario, the 2050 world is hyper-connected and rapidly emerging technologies can effectively boost ecosystem services. With new technology, however, could also come new environmental dilemmas, the experts postulate. In the "order from strength" scenario, the world could potentially organize around one superpower that wields military or economic power to control global activities. While such dominance could be used in some regions to environmental benefit, inequities could also arise as the world becomes increasingly polarized.

Finally, the "adapting mosaic" scenario envisions a world in which local rather than global institutions hold regional power and implement local environmental change. But the potential downside could be the neglect of global environmental problems such as climate change and declining oceanic fisheries.

"I feel that the trends in the world today are much more complicated that I thought before," says Carpenter, reflecting on the work. "I personally attach greatest hope in ongoing changes in personal values so that people live good lives that tread more lightly on the environment."

Steve Carpenter | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Europe's microtechnology industry is attuned to growth
10.03.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

nachricht Preferential trade agreements enhance global trade at the expense of its resilience
17.02.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>