Navigation Links
What we don’t know still hurts us, environmental researchers warn
Date:1/29/2009

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Knowledge gaps continue to hobble scientists' assessments of the environment, a Michigan State University researcher and colleagues warn. Their warning follows sobering conclusions drawn from what they do know and could help set the global agenda for research funding in the years to come.

A worldwide 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment enlisted hundreds of scientists to develop a view of ecosystems through the lens of services those ecosystems provide humanity, said Thomas Dietz, director of the MSU Environmental Science and Policy Program and professor in sociology and crop and soil sciences. The MEA found about 60 percent of ecosystem services supporting life including fresh water, fisheries, clean air, pests and climate are being degraded or used unsustainably. The MEA projected continued deterioration at current rates.

But drawing conclusions is still limited by what researchers call discipline-bound approaches that don't fully describe the range of the Earth's dynamic and complex biophysical and social systems.

"In only a few cases are the abilities of ecosystems to provide human well-being holding steady, and in almost every case we're seeing declines in ecosystems underpinning human well-being," said Dietz, who was involved in the original MEA.

Many view that assessment as a baseline for analyzing climate change, Dietz said, although that was not the purpose of the report. He and fellow scientists are set to publish what amounts to a post-MEA gap analysis in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

"The conclusion that things are getting worse in general comes out of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment," he said. "Our job was to say 'OK, what science do we need to do?'"

Among the biggest knowledge gaps Dietz and colleagues found, he said, is "really thinking seriously about the interaction between humans and ecosystems, back and forth. How are we changing ecosystems and how are ecosystems affecting us?"

Probing such questions suggests a larger role for MSU, Dietz said, given its strengths in researching coupled human and natural systems.

The lack of long-term ecosystem monitoring and data collection is another deficiency the world scientific and policy communities must address, Dietz and colleagues wrote. Research tends to be underwritten for maybe three years, but data needs, in many cases, to span decades to be of greatest value.

On the other end of the spectrum, addressing abrupt ecosystem changes "those are the scary things" and developing early warning systems also are challenges confronting scientists and the policymakers.

Recommendations such as those made by Dietz's group tend to carry weight when national science agencies make research funding decisions, he said. Ecosystem change might sound like an academic subject to many in the developed world, he said, but "for an awful lot of people around the world, the functioning of the ecosystem is right in their front yard and at their water tap."


'/>"/>

Contact: Thomas Dietz
tdietz@msu.edu
517-353-8763
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Male cyclists risk sexual problems if they don’t choose the right bike
2. UGA study may give hope that ivory-billed woodpeckers still around
3. Study: Elderly Women can increase strength but still risk falls
4. Perinatal Days and International Stillbirth Conference -- Nov.5-7
5. People with heart disease still have trouble controlling blood lipid levels
6. Colorectal cancer screening rates still too low
7. Study shows mercury levels from products decreasing, though still at dangerous levels
8. American food: Still the best deal in the world
9. Species still have more viable offspring if they can choose their best mate
10. Fat still on the childrens menu
11. Invasive plants challenge scientists in face of environmental change
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
What we don’t know still hurts us, environmental researchers warn
(Date:6/22/2016)... 2016  The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics ... as one of the fastest-growing trade shows during the ... Bellagio in Las Vegas . ... growth in each of the following categories: net square feet ... of attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading provider ... public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring announced that ... has secured the final acceptance by all three ... Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus will have ... installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes between legitimate ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... -- Paris Police Prefecture ... to ensure the safety of people and operations in several ... tournament Teleste, an international technology group specialised in ... that its video security solution will be utilised by ... safety across the country. The system roll-out is scheduled for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the creation of ... company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the Company"), ... portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the treatment ... represent an exciting class of therapies, possessing the ... cancer patients. Substantial advances have been achieved with ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Lawrence, MA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 ... ... the Peel Plate® YM (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research ... test platform of microbial tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   EpiBiome , ... secured $1 million in debt financing from Silicon Valley ... up automation and to advance its drug development efforts, ... new facility. "SVB has been an incredible ... the services a traditional bank would provide," said Dr. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new case report published ... how a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from ... the paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: