“We're running the planet like a subprime loan,” Dr. Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Centre said. A coordinated response would reduce the risks of both kinds of crises in the future.
Climate change, water and food scarcity, energy security and dangerous pollution are among urgent and accelerating problems across all aspects of the Earth system, the summit of high profile experts from 22 countries confirmed. Convened by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP), summit participants noted the alarming fact that global carbon emissions have been increasing faster than any of the IPCC's scenarios from just 5 years ago, according to recent measurements.
“The consequences of the financial breakdown threaten the economic system. The consequences of the breakdown of the ecological system will be far worse in just a slightly longer time frame. Now as you're going to fix a short-term problem, take the opportunity to fix these long-term problems,” said Prof. Thomas B Johansson, a Lund University energy expert who is also Co-Chair of the Global Energy Assessment.
New economic agreements can and should heed natural limits and put the global recovery on a less carbon and resource intensive pathway. Recent economic trends were on course to raise global temperature by 4 to 6 degrees by the year 2100, levels considered catastrophic, according to IPCC projections.
Greener societies would lower risks while providing better quality of life, eliminating poverty and enhancing social coherence. In contrast, using the conventional measure of GDP growth as the lead indicator of national policies “has been badly misleading us,” Prof. Robert Costanza, an ecological economist at the University of Vermont, noted here.
New policies must tackle problems using an integrated Earth systems approach, including all human-environment interactions. Dr. Jill Jäger, senior researcher at the Sustainable Europe Research Institute, explained that what is missing are flexible processes that allow both multi-part dialogue and higher rates of learning to link expert knowledge to action effectively.
“The situation requires urgent action, the equivalent of war-time mobilisation. We need to drive solutions together, through best policies from governments, best practices from industry, and best behaviours from consumers,” commented Mr. Anthony Simon, a former senior Unilever executive now active in networks including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
The summit, an activity of IGBP’s “The Planet in 2050” research initiative, tasked 4 working groups on energy technology, land-use, culture-development-economy, and interchanges with the Earth system, to define desirable visions of the planet in 2050 and identify pathways, obstacles and opportunities. It will soon publish a public report. “A plan for a sustainable planet is doable,” Prof. Guy Brasseur of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research and one of the meeting's initiators, said. “It requires immediate measures. Long term, it will require different education systems that are conceived around the need to reconcile human beings with the rest of nature.”
Mary Ann Williams | alfa
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Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
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For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
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An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
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A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
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