Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Civilisation faces ‘perfect storm of ecological and social problems’

Celebrated scientists and development thinkers warn that civilisation is faced with a perfect storm of ecological and social problems driven by overpopulation, overconsumption and environmentally malign technologies.

In the face of an “absolutely unprecedented emergency”, say the 18 past winners of the Blue Planet prize – the unofficial Nobel for the environment – society has “no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilisation. Either we will change our ways and build an entirely new kind of global society, or they will be changed for us”.

The stark assessment of the current global outlook by the group, who include Sir Bob Watson, the government’s chief scientific adviser on environmental issues, US climate scientist James Hansen, Prof José Goldemberg, Brazil’s secretary of environment during the Rio Earth summit in 1992, and Stanford University Prof Paul Ehrlich, is published today on the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The paper, which was commissioned by UNEP, will feed into the Rio +20 earth summit conference in June.

 “The current system is broken,” said Watson. “It is driving humanity to a future that is 3-5C warmer than our species has ever known, and is eliminating the ecology that we depend on for our health, wealth and senses of self.”

"Many of the earth´s habitats, animals, plants, insects and even micro-organisms that we know to be rare may not be known at all by future generations. We have the capability and the responsibility to act; we must do so before it is too late." The Dalai Lama

The paper urges governments to:

• Tackle overconsumption in the rich world, and address population pressure by empowering women, improving education and making contraception accessible to all.

• Conserve and value biodiversity and ecosystem services, and create markets for them that can form the basis of green economies.

• Replace GDP as a measure of wealth with metrics for natural, built, human and social capital – and how they intersect.

• Eliminate subsidies in sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture that create environmental and social costs, which currently go unpaid.

• Transform decision-making processes to empower marginalised groups, and integrate economic, social and environmental policies instead of having them compete.

• Invest in knowledge through research and training.

1 comment:

  1. Overconsumption and the ever rising population are the major factors in the coming storm, we have too many people and not enough resources. This will be very apparent in our oil supply before anything else, indeed, it can already be seen.

    The above post is great, I'd like to add that we also need to act to limit the power and influence of greedy multinationals, let's not overlook the role of the corporations in trampling all over everything.