The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

Duncan Graham-Rowe and Bob Holmes in New Scientist:

It has cost $24 million and taken more than 1300 scientists in 95 countries four years to put together. This week, the first ever global inventory of natural resources was finally published. Its overwhelming conclusion: we are living way beyond our means.

According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), approximately 60 per cent of the planet’s “ecosystem services” – natural products and processes that support life, such as water purification – are being degraded or used unsustainably. What is more, this degradation increases the risk of abrupt and drastic changes, such as climate shifts and the collapse of fisheries.

But amid the doom and gloom there is hope. According to the MA, which is backed by the UN, the World Bank and the World Resources Institute, there is still tremendous scope for action that could mitigate these problems. “The future is in our hands,” Robert Watson, MA project leader and chief scientist for the World Bank told New Scientist.

More here.