|| Millenium Ecosystem Assessment
||global ecosystem, ecosystem change
Minnesota Statewide, Outside Minnesota
|| A summary and a user-friendly version of the global and comprehensive Millenium Ecosystem Assessment report is accessible online.
The March 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (http://www.maweb.org/en/Index.aspx), perhaps the most comprehensive survey to date on the state of the planet, concludes that human activities are threatening the Earth's ability to sustain future generations. Published by United Nations Foundation, the World Bank and others, it was prepared by 1,300 researchers from 95 nations over a period of four years. Its assessment is that approximately 60% of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth - fresh water, fisheries, air and water systems, and the regulation of regional climate, natural hazards and pests - are being degraded or used unsustainably.
The report warns that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years. It also suggests that there is increasing likelihood of potentially abrupt changes that will seriously affect human well-being. These changes could include the emergence of new diseases, sudden changes in water quality, creation of "dead zones" along the coasts, the collapse of fisheries, and shifts in regional climate.
As this complex document has 2,500 pages, a useful first step is to read "Living Beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human Well-being," a 28-page summary of the report written by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment board, available at no cost at http://www.maweb.org/documents/document.429.aspx.pdf
Also, GreenFacts.org offers a very useful service in presenting a faithful but user-friendly summary of the Millennium report at http://www.greenfacts.org/en/ecosystems/index.htm GreenFacts is an independent, non-advocacy, multi-stakeholder nonprofit organization based in Brussels, Belgium.
This report on ecosystem change is only one of a number of GreenFacts studies on environment and health matters, which are written for non-specialists. Each of these scientific consensus studies is presented in a 3-level structure of increasing detail and approved by the GreenFacts scientific board after being peer-reviewed by independent specialists. Additional scientific consensus documents presented at http://www.greenfacts.org include (among others):
* Climate Change
* Endocrine Disrupters
* Power Lines
* Water Disinfectants
On January 19, 2006, additional reports of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment were released. These 500-800 page reports are the products of the MA working groups and examine Current State and Trends; Scenarios; and Policy Responses. See http://www.maweb.org/en/Global.aspx for more information.