“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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Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
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The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
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Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
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