State of the Planet [News]
By Jovin Hurry
London, 26 Mar 2012 – Green businesses in Singapore, take note. Scientists are describing humanity’s global impact as “The Great Acceleration”. They offer an unequivocal warning: an uncertain future on a much hotter world.
In London today, 2,800 experts meet at the 4-day Planet under Pressure conference. The Day 1 analysis of Earth’s condition kick-starts a week-long review of vital signs, options, hurdles and how to move forward.
These experts, spanning the spectrum of interconnected scientific interests, businesses and social groups will examine solutions, hurdles and ways to break down the barriers to progress. The conference is the largest gathering of experts in development and global environmental changes in advance of June’s UN “Rio+20” summit in Brazil in a few months this year.
“The last 50 years have without doubt seen one of the most rapid transformations of the human relationship with the natural world,” says speaker Will Steffen, a global change expert from the Australian National University.
Key indicators of the planet’s state, according to the speakers, are: higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, phosphorus extraction and fertilizer production causing many large dead zones in coastal areas; rising air and ocean temperatures; melting sea ice, polar ice sheets and Arctic permafrost; rising sea levels and ocean acidification; biodiversity loss; land use changes; and growing consumption of freshwater supplies and energy by a growing global population, of which billions of people still lack even the most basic elements of well-being.
“There are signs that some drivers of global change are slowing or changing,” says fellow speaker Professor Diana Liverman, co-Director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona and visiting Oxford University academic.
Liverman notes a time lapse animation offering vivid evidence that Earth has entered a new geological epoch hallmarked by the profound ecosystem impacts of one species – humans – so much so that it marks an entirely new geological timespan: the “Anthropocene.” Online at www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEMse22h8c8, it illustrates the dramatic growth of carbon dioxide emissions from the start of the industrial revolution — spreading from the UK in 1750 across Europe, North America and to Japan by 1900.
Dr Lidia Brito, the conference co-chair and UNESCO director of the science-policy division says: “If you like, our presenters today are akin to doctors saying ‘look, you may not feel too sick at the moment but you’ve got high blood pressure, your cholesterol is going up, and your lifestyle is not conducive to good health.’”
How can businesses in Singapore help in turning these trends around and participate with international counterparts in the discussions for the most promising options, for overcoming the barriers to change and towards a prescription for the future?
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