Eclectic Curiosity

Millenium Ecosystem Assessment

Posted on March 31st, 2005, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report was released yesterday. The MEA is a landmark study conducted by 1,300 experts from 95 countries that reveals that approximately 60 percent of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth – such as fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water regulation, and the regulation of regional climate, natural hazards and pests – are being degraded or used unsustainably. Scientists warn that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years and that global development goals are at risk.

It’s a striking report definitely worth checking out, but it’s hardly surprising. Most people intuitively know these huge problems exist and it’s generally understood that they are worsening. But the scale of these challenges are so daunting that they paralyze. Thomas Homer-Dixon explained this effect brilliantly in his book The Ingenuity Gap (one of my all-time favourite generalist books). Can we solve the problems of the future? Has the world become too complex and fast-paced for us to manage? There are some remarkable initiatives – The Natural Step, Investors’ Circle (see the video at the bottom of the page), Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), to name only a few – that would appear to prove that it really is possible. Is it enough?

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