Policy ForumENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

Earth System Science for Global Sustainability: Grand Challenges

Science  12 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6006, pp. 916-917
DOI: 10.1126/science.1196263

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Summary

Tremendous progress has been made in understanding the functioning of the Earth system and, in particular, the impact of human actions (1). Although this knowledge can inform management of specific features of our world in transition, societies need knowledge that will allow them to simultaneously reduce global environmental risks while also meeting economic development goals. For example, how can we advance science and technology, change human behavior, and influence political will to enable societies to meet targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous climate change? At the same time, how can we meet needs for food, water, improved health and human security, and enhanced energy security? Can this be done while also meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring ecosystem integrity?