THE REALITY OF GLOBAL CHANGE
URGENT NEED FOR ACTION
"Earth's Ecosystem at Risk"
released Millennium Ecosystem Assessment reports changes to
ecosystems during the last
50 years have resulted in substantial and largely irreversible loss in
diversity of life on earth.
(CNN Science News, March 30, 2005)
Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report
The first comprehensive global evaluation
of the world's major ecosystems warns continued degradation of ecosystem
services increases the likelihood of abrupt changes that will seriously
affect the well-being of humans. Radical changes are needed in the way
nature is treated. (Report released March 30, 2005)
reacts to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment"
World's leading international conservation
organizations pledge to work together to conserve ecosystems. This
scientific wake-up call removes any doubts that the quality of
humanity's future is tied to the way we treat the natural world, even
related to ecosystems far away.
Living Planet Report
"Humanity now exceeds the
planet's capacity to sustain us"
WWF's report on state of the world's ecosystems
"The most remarkable places on
Earth are also the most threatened."
(Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation
WORKING TOWARD GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY
On this page we have attempted to briefly summarize some of the programs
and research that are taking place on a global scale, each one a massive
undertaking of critical importance related to the health of our planet
and life itself. One cannot properly summarize the extensive and
complex information and theories put forth in these websites. It
is an injustice to attempt it. However, our hope is to give you
some idea of content and entice you into investigating the websites
individually to gain an in-depth perspective of the ongoing research and
accumulation of data as it evolves. The information presented in
these websites is from the cooperative efforts of the world community in
working toward global sustainability.
in Ecology (Ecological
Society of America)
A continuing series, by a panel of
scientific experts, designed to present major ecological issues relevant
to the environment in language that is understandable to non-scientists.
Pick one to read, and you will want to go back for more.
Issue 1: Human Alteration of the Global Nitrogen Cycle: Cause and
Issue 2: Ecosystem Services: Benefits Supplied to Human Societies by
Issue 3: Nonpoint Pollution of Surface Waters with Phosphorus and
Issue 4: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning: Maintaining Natural
Life Support Processes
Issue 5: Biotic Invasions: Epidemiology, Global Consequences and Control
Issue 6: Applying Ecological Principles to Management of the U.S.
Issue 7: Nutrient Pollution of Coastal Rivers, Bays, and Seas
Issue 8: Effects of Aquaculture on World Fish Supplies
Issue 9: Water in a Changing World
Issue 10: Sustaining Healthy Freshwater Ecosystems
Issue 11: The Role of Nearshore Ecosystems as Fish and Shellfish
Issue 12: Impacts of Atmospheric Pollution on Aquatic Ecosystems
(clicking Text Only will quickly load the document; however, full text
Adobe Acrobat versions contain graphs and charts)
Global Change Research Program
"Helping to understand, assess and predict global
change." Focus areas: Composition and Chemistry of the
Atmosphere, Biology and Biogeochemistry of Ecosystems, Carbon Cycle
Science, Human Dimensions of Global Change, Paleoenvironment and
Paleoclimate, Understanding the Earth's Climate System, and The Global
Our Changing Planet
A Supplement to the President's
Fiscal Year 2004 and 2005 Budgets.
||A report by the
Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global
Global Change Research Information Office
Provides access to data and information on climate change research, adaptation/mitigation strategies and technologies, and global change related educational resources on behalf of the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and its participating Federal Agencies and Organizations.
Library containing extensive collection of documents.
Dr. Global Change (GCRIO)
||Resources pertaining to global environmental
change to assist researchers, students, educators, decision
makers and the general public. Search the archives for a wealth of
Climate Change and Variability,
Human Dimensions of Global Change,
Impacts of Global Change on Natural Ecosystems,
Greenhouse Gases and much more.
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
To assess the science of climate change, its impacts and to develop
response strategies. The IPCC has three working groups on those
main objectives and a task force on greenhouse gas inventories.
The IPCC will assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic
information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced
climate change.. IPCC bases its assessments mainly on published and peer
reviewed scientific technical literature.
Climate Change 2001 report released 2/19/01. Issues
addressed: Water Resources, Agriculture and Food Supply,
Terrestrial Ecosystems, Coastal Zones and Marine Ecosystems, Human
Settlements, Energy and Industry, Insurance and Other Financial
Services, Human Health, Key regional concerns, vulnerabilities and
adaptive capacities in various countries. (U.N. and World
World Conservation Union
(IUCN - International Union for the Conservation of
Nature and Natural Resources)
The World Conservation Union is a collective and global
partnership of 82 States, 111 government agencies, over 800 NGOs, and
approximately 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries for the
purpose of conservation of nature and equitable and sustainable use of
natural resources. The Union convenes the World Conservation Congress
and other platforms for discussing conservation issues.
of the Planet"
In April of 2004, at the international Earth
Observation Summit, 47 nations and the European Commission established a
"system of Earth observation systems" that will revolutionize the
understanding of how Earth works. This agreement committed to
scientifically connect the world for the benefit of people and economies
around the globe. "Our environment knows no boundaries." We
all breathe the same air, drink the same water, and cause pollution.
"Working together, we can find the solutions and affect the changes
needed to protect people, promote prosperity and preserve our planet."
"For the first time we'll be able to take the pulse of the planet."
GEO-II: Second Plenary Session of the Group on Earth
14-15 December 2005 Geneva, Switzerland
of a Changing Earth
"This conference presented the latest scientific understanding of natural and human-driven changes on our planet."
Over 1600 persons representing
approximately 100 countries attended this Global Change Open Science
Conference during July 2001.
The Amsterdam Declaration
on Global Change was presented and formally endorsed by a strong majority of
the Conference participants to alert the world to the reality of global change and urgent need for action.
The agreement recognized that, "in addition to the threat of significant climate change, there is growing concern over the ever-increasing human modification of other aspects of the global environment and the consequent implications for human well-being."
The agreement was based upon research conducted under the auspices of four international global change research programmes -
(International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), International Human Dimensions Programme on Global
Environmental Change (IHDP), World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), and
DIVERSITAS - the international biodiversity programme.
Some points presented during the conference:
“…we look to the future through the lens of the past”
“On longer time scales, there is a remarkably regular pattern of
change: of an ebb and flow within and between different glacial
cycles.” “It is almost as if we are hearing
the rhythm of the planet's heart. The periodicity of interglacial and
glacial climate periods are in dance step with the beat of the carbon
cycle as significant pools of carbon are slowly transferred from the
land through the atmosphere to the ocean as the planet enters glaciation,
and then, there is the rapid recovery of carbon from the ocean back
through the atmosphere and onto the landscape as the planet exits
glaciation.” The repeated pattern “suggests a tightly governed control system with firm
stops…” “What were the controls and why are there the ‘hard stops”?
"The palaeo records clearly show that we have driven the Earth system from
the tightly bound domain of glacial-interglacial dynamics into carbon territory that
has not been visited in the last 25 million years."
There is a well-placed sense of urgency regarding the environmental state of
the planet, with regard to shortages of clean and accessible freshwater,
degradation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, increases in soil
erosion, loss of biodiversity, changes in the chemistry of the
atmosphere, alterations of the coastal zones, declines in fisheries, and
the possibility of major changes in climate. "Humans
are altering the ecology of the planet, the chemistry of the planet, and
the climate of the planet."
The challenges are daunting, but hopefully not insurmountable. Significant
scientific understanding of the Earth system has been realized over the
past10 years, but much more needs to be done. We need to understand the
fundamental biogeochemical cycle and underlying processes of the
planet. The issues are of immense importance and we must
"take some of the pressure off the Earth."
The Amsterdam Agreement on Global Change, speeches, summaries of sessions, reports and
presentations are available online. Plenary Sessions Presentations:
with link to Parallel Sessions
Council for Science (ICSU)
International council bringing together natural scientists from around
the world for the exchange of ideas and information, the development of
standards, clarification of issues, finding solutions to problems, and
Interdisciplinary bodies have been
established to address a complex array of subjects: freedom in the
conduct of science, responsibility and ethics in science, dissemination
of scientific information, Antarctic research, environmental problems,
food security, genetics and biotechnology, natural disaster reduction,
geosphere-biosphere, oceanic research, solar-terrestrial physics, space
research, water research, the lithosphere and other specific areas that
require international collaboration.
|International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme
- focus on global biogeochemistry.
||To describe and understand the interactive physical, chemical and biological processes that regulate the total Earth System, the unique environment that it provides for life, the changes that are occurring in this system, and the manner in which they are influenced by human actions.
| Why is IGBP needed?
IS a System. Analysis of the gases trapped in air bubbles in layers of Antarctic ice reveals a rhythmic pattern of `planetary breathing' for nearly half a million years."
"Humans now have the capacity to alter the Earth System in ways that threaten the very processes and components, both biotic and
abiotic, upon which humans and our societies depend."
| Scientists say "business-as-usual" is
not an option
||"The accelerating human transformation of the Earth’s environment is not
Read the list of some major changes that are occurring around
|International Human Dimensions
Programme on Global Environmental Change
Open Meeting, Bonn October 2005 - "Global Environmental Change,
Globalization and International Security: New Challenges for the
The IHDP coordinates research on the human dimensions of global
Climate Research Programme (WCRP)
Mission of this program is to develop a basic scientific understanding
of the physical climate system (global atmosphere, ocean, sea and land
ice, and the land surface)
- To coordinate scientific
research in the biodiversity sciences at the global level, focusing on
the origin, composition, ecosystem function, discovery, maintenance and conservation of
biodiversity; and to provide accurate scientific information and
predictive models of the status of biodiversity and sustainability of
the use of the Earth's biotic resources.
"Biodiversity underpins the life-support system of our planet."
The Earth is experiencing an unprecedented rate of species extinction,
bringing us to a critical point.
on Biological Diversity (CBD)
United Nations Environment
Biological diversity is a common concern of all humankind as it is vital
to humanity's future.
Of the original forests on Earth, 45% are gone, and much of the
biodiversity within those forests along with them. Also among the
planet's richest ecosystems are coral reefs. Up to 10% of those
marine habitats have been destroyed, with another third of the remaining
coral reefs looking at collapse in the next 10-20 years. 50% of
coastal mangroves are gone, which are vital nursery habitat for
countless species. Severe loss of biodiversity may come from
global climate change and depletion of the ozone layer in the
stratosphere. Many species and ecosystems will not be able
to adapt to extreme or rapid changes. It is estimated that 34,000
plant and 5,200 animal species face extinction. Extinctions are
irreversible. Fragmentation, degradation and loss of ecosystems
are the greatest threats to the world's biodiversity. Biodiversity
within ecosystems plays an important role in maintaining the stability
and productivity of the ecosystems. All goods and services must be
considered, using an ecosystem approach in conservation and sustainable
use of biodiversity. Biodiversity must be conserved in its natural
environment, but also in gardens, zoos and in gene banks to assure, as
much as possible, against loss.
"It is unethical to drive other
forms of life to extinction, and thereby deprive present and future
generations of options for their survival and development."
Surveys must be conducted
to identify what biodiversity exists; the values, importance, and
endangerment status of each must be assessed; key components of
biodiversity that need to be conserved and used sustainably must be
monitored; protected areas need to be established; sound development
promoted, degraded ecosystems restored and rebuilt, recovery of
threatened species need to be promoted in a joint effort with local
residents; aggressive action is needed against threatening alien
species; potential risks related to development of organisms modified by
biotechnology need to be controlled; and education and involvement of
local residents and the general public should be promoted, including
their participation in assessments of environmental impacts.
The three main goals of the Convention on Biodiversity are: the conservation of biological diversity, the
sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.
The agreement covers all ecosystems, species, and genetic resources,
linking conservation with sustainable use of biological resources.
It addresses biotechnology and biosafety issues, including principles
for fair and equitable sharing of resources and benefits.
Life on Earth" - How the Convention on
Biological Diversity promotes nature and human well-being.
We must make conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity a real priority,
otherwise "children born today will live in an impoverished world."
|The National Council
for Science and the Environment
"Improving the scientific basis for making
decisions on environmental issues"
|The Pew Center
on Global Climate Change
The Pew Charitable Trusts
have invested billions of dollars as part of their Environment Program
in promoting and contributing to energy-saving programs, projects,
research, policies, enforcement and decisive action in reducing harmful
emissions that contribute to global warming. Read their global
climate series of reports and analyses focusing on Solutions, Economics,
Environmental Impacts and Policies.
for International Earth Science Information Network
CIESIN's mission is to provide access to and
enhance the use of information worldwide, advancing understanding of
human interactions in the environment and serving the needs of science
and public and private decision making.
Gridded Population of
the World and the Global Rural - Urban Mapping Project
GPWv3 depicts the distribution of human population across
the globe. It is the most detailed version of GPW to date with more than
three times the amount of data as version 2, and includes population
estimates to 2015. GRUMP builds on GPWv3 by incorporating urban and
rural information, allowing new insights into urban population
distribution and the global extents of human settlements.