Researchers: Earth headed for trouble due to human activity

By | September 12, 2009

Researchers: Earth headed for trouble due to human activity

The world faces a compounding series of crises driven by human activity, which existing governments and institutions are increasingly powerless to cope with, a group of eminent environmental scientists and economists has warned.

In today’s issue of the leading international journal Science, the researchers say that nations alone are unable to resolve the sorts of planet-wide challenges now arising.

Pointing to global action on ozone depletion (the Montreal Protocol), high seas fisheries and antibiotic drug resistance as examples, they call for a new order of cooperative international institutions capable of dealing with issues like climate change – and enforcing compliance where necessary.

“Energy, food and water crises, climate disruption, declining fisheries, ocean acidification, emerging diseases and increasing antibiotic resistance are examples of serious, intertwined global-scale challenges spawned by the accelerating scale of human activity,” say the researchers, who come from Australia, Sweden, the United States, India, Greece and The Netherlands.

“These issues are outpacing the development of institutions to deal with them and their many interactive effects. The core of the problem is inducing cooperation in situations where individuals and nations will collectively gain if all cooperate, but each faces the temptation to free-ride on the cooperation of others.”

There are few institutional structures to achieve co-operation globally on the sort of scales now essential to avoid very serious consequences, warns lead author Dr Brian Walker of Australia’s CSIRO.

via ARC Coral Centre global institutions.

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