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UC Santa Barbara researchers play key role in UN Environmental Assessment
Date:7/10/2012

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Despite the ever-louder drumbeat for sustainability and global efforts to advance environmental initiatives, Earth remains on a collision course with "unprecedented levels of damage and degradation." That's according to a new United Nations (U.N.) assessment that includes UC Santa Barbara researchers among its authors.

The U.N. Environment Programme released its fifth Global Environmental Outlook report commonly known as GEO-5 in June, on the eve of the recent Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil. Produced over three years, in collaboration with some 600 experts worldwide, the document details global progress, or lack thereof, on a host of internationally agreed-upon goals to protect the planet and reverse a longstanding pattern of production and consumption of natural resources.

"If you look at these issues over several years, it can be overwhelming and discouraging," said David Lpez-Carr, professor of geography at UCSB, director of the Human-Environment Dynamics (HED) lab, and a lead author on two of the report's 17 chapters. "But learning takes time, and patience truly is a virtue. Many of the debates we have now are over things we weren't even talking about 40 years ago. So we do see areas of progress."

With Kostas Goulias, a UCSB geography professor and transportation expert, and Matthew Gluschankoff, an undergraduate who works in the HED lab, Lpez-Carr helped write the opening substantive chapter to the GEO-5, "Drivers," about what causes environmental change. Population and consumption are deemed the primary drivers. High population growth in remote rural areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and the impact that such demographic transition is likely to have on human well-being and environmental integrity remains an especially "under-recognized" issue, according to Lpez-Carr.

"These areas are particularly vulnerable to climate change because they have a direct dependence on the
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Contact: Shelly Leachman
shelly.leachman@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-8726
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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