Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Scenarios
WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Scenarios: "If you even come close to the sustainable blogosphere (as I increasingly see it called) today, you know that the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report is out. The vast majority of news reports about the Assessment emphasize its dark, 'sobering' presentation. This isn't surprising -- the planet's environmental systems are under a lot of stress, and if things don't change, we're in for disaster. But that's an important caveat -- if things don't change.
What most readings of the Assessment have so far seemed to miss is that the listing of the ways in which we're harming the planet is not all the report contains. The report also includes a chapter on scenarios of what the next fifty years might hold (Chapter 5, pp. 123-141, for those of you reading along at home). They're more summaries than fully-fleshed out scenaric worlds, but even so, they dispel the notion that the MEA is just about how bad things are and how much worse things can become. In fact, of the four, only one could be called openly pessimistic, and the remaining three have distinctly WorldChanging overtones.
(A quick summary of the MEA, for those of you who have missed out on the fun. A multi-year study involving over 2,000 scientists from 95 countries, the Millennium Assessment Report is a broad survey of environmental indicators. Overall, the story isn't good. Of the 24 key 'services' provided by the environment, 15 have 'degraded over the last 50 years--most notably fresh water, fisheries, air and water purification, and the regulation of climate, natural hazards and pests. Only four have been enhanced, and three of those pertain to food production.' [...]"