Last week the 3rd Nobel Laureates Symposium on Global Sustainability concluded with participants—including 17 past Nobel Prize winners and 40 other experts—crafting and signing the Stockholm Memorandum. The document calls for emergency actions to tackle human pressures on the Earth’s environment while ensuring a more equitable and just world.
“Science makes clear that we are transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10,000 years. Evidence is growing that human pressures are starting to overwhelm the Earth’s buffering capacity,” the memorandum reads. “Humans are now the most significant driver of global change, propelling the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene.”
A sense of urgency is apparent through the entire document, which states bluntly, “we cannot continue on our current path. The time for procrastination is over. We cannot afford the luxury of denial.”
The document lays out eight issues that should be tackled on two tracks—emergency measures and long-term actions—to move society toward ‘a sustainable and equitable global civilization ‘
These issues include reducing poverty, reaching a strong climate agreement, decoupling economic growth from resource and energy consumption, ensuring food for all, remaking the global economy to recognize ecosystem services, increasing awareness about overconsumption and population growth, strengthening global governance, and creating a research center devoted to studying global sustainability issues.
“Our call is for fundamental transformation and innovation in all spheres and at all scales in order to stop and reverse global environmental change and move toward fair and lasting prosperity for present and future generations,” the document reads.
Specific recommendations include putting a high price on carbon, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, creating strict resource efficiency standards, moving beyond GDP as the standard of a society’s success, empowering and educating women worldwide, and increasing science education among others.
“We are the first generation facing the evidence of global change,” the document concludes. “It therefore falls upon us to change our relationship with the planet, in order to tip the scales towards a sustainable world for future generations.”
(05/01/2011) As the honorary speaker at an event celebrating fifty years of the conservation organization World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Archbishop Desmond Tutu stated that overconsumption and obsession with economic growth were imperiling the global environment and leaving the poor behind.
(04/22/2011) There is no question that Earth has been a giving planet. Everything humans have needed to survive, and thrive, was provided by the natural world around us: food, water, medicine, materials for shelter, and even natural cycles such as climate and nutrients. Scientists have come to term such gifts ‘ecosystem services’, however the recognition of such services goes back thousands of years, and perhaps even farther if one accepts the caves paintings at Lascaux as evidence. Yet we have so disconnected ourselves from the natural world that it is easy—and often convenient—to forget that nature remains as giving as ever, even as it vanishes bit-by-bit. The rise of technology and industry may have distanced us superficially from nature, but it has not changed our reliance on the natural world: most of what we use and consume on a daily basis remains the product of multitudes of interactions within nature, and many of those interactions are imperiled. Beyond such physical goods, the natural world provides less tangible, but just as important, gifts in terms of beauty, art, and spirituality.
(02/21/2011) Investing around $1.3 trillion, which represents about 2% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), into ten sectors could move the world economy from fossil-fuel dependent toward a low carbon economy, according to report by the UN Environment Program (UNEP). In addition, the investments would alleviate global poverty and keep stagnating economies humming, while cutting humanity’s global ecological footprint nearly in half by 2050 even in the face of rising populations.