Monday, March 26, 2012

Conference hopes to turn the tide on Earth's decline

Aisling Irwin in Thousands of international researchers from a host of disciplines gather in London, United Kingdom, today for what they say is an unprecedented attempt to refocus their work on solving planetary crises.

More than 2,500 researchers, ranging from earth scientists to psychologists, will join policymakers and representatives from the private sector at the Planet Under Pressure conference (26–29 March) to assess problems ranging from the collapse of fisheries to land grabs — and to pool their expertise to find ways forward.

The organisers say the meeting demonstrates a change in attitude among scientists, who are moving away from documenting what is happening to Earth towards providing and assessing solutions to pressing environmental and social problems. "It's the right conference at the right time," said Sybil Seitzinger, executive director of the Sweden-based International Geosphere–Biosphere Programme (IGBP).

..."Scientists are blaming themselves for focusing on knowledge and assuming that others would act on it," said Ghassem Asrar, director of WCRP. "And as such, we have this impasse between decision makers and scientists." The conference is expected to produce an outcome statement from scientists promising to focus on finding solutions to Earth's problems.

"The whole of the research agenda for sustainability science for the next several years will be recast and the funding reorganised to take account of the discussions at this conference," Sander van der Leeuw, dean of Arizona State University's School of Sustainability, said in a statement...

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