Technology cannot solve all environmental problems
Humans urgently need to ease the strains on the planet's natural systems if we want to continue to bring better living standards to all: we totally depend on our natural resources for food, water and shelter. This is one of the conclusions of the newly published Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the most comprehensive global survey of the state of our planet.
The report states, that humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the past fifty years than ever before. The lifestyle that followed World War II led to enormous changes. For example, more land was converted to agriculture since 1945 than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined. A quarter of the planet is now under cultivation.
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is the result of four years of work involving around 1,400 experts from 95 countries. The exercise, which cost 24 million euros, aims to analyse ecosystems in order to ensure, that human beings will benefit from natural resources also in the future.
'We have a tendency to dismiss pessimistic scenarios, but thinking ahead often motivates us into actions that prevent disastrous consequences. And actions are necessary' says Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency and a contributor to the report.
Prof. Jacqueline McGlade describes the report as a very powerful consensus about the current unsustainable direction of many of our ecosystems: 'In contradiction to what environmental sceptics often say, this report definitely confirms, that technology alone will not solve all problems. Even in the best case scenario, irreversible consequences are expected, and these can have serious local and global impacts', says Prof. Jacqueline McGlade.
She points out that the future is in our hands: 'It is possible to create a more balanced planet for our grandchildren. We need to combine strong political commitments, better environmental awareness, environmental friendly technologies, and higher prices for exploiting natural resources'. The outcomes of the Millennium Assessment will be further addressed in the upcoming State of the Environment Report to be launched by the European Environment Agency later this year.