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:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung ... global partnership that will provide end customers with a ... and payment services.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ... for financial services, but it also plays a fundamental part ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... GOTHENBURG, Sweden , April 28, 2016 ... 1,491.2 M (139.9), up 966% compared with the first quarter of ... Operating profit totaled SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating ... SEK 7.12 (loss: 0.32) Cash flow from operations was ... , The 2016 revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... LONDON , April 26, 2016 ... a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... to integrate the Onegini mobile security platform with ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) The integration will ... to access and transact across channels. Using this ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... mobile devices with fingerprint recognition for secure access, voice recognition for hands-free communication, ... ways consumers are interacting with biometrics technology today. But if they asked ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... SILVER SPRING, Md. and RESEARCH ... -- United Therapeutics Corporation (NASDAQ: UTHR ) announced ... Co-Chief Executive Officer, of United Therapeutics will provide an ... Deutsche Bank 41 st Annual Health Care Conference. ... May 5, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, and ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... has joined the company as an Expert Consultant. Mr. Clark was formerly ... and managing the development of small molecule monographs based on analytical methods. ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... A compact PET scanner called NuPETâ„¢ has ... Resonance Imaging) in existing third-party MRI systems. PET and MRI are complementary imaging ... Simultaneous PET/MRI imaging offers a solution to many challenges that face researchers who ...
Breaking Biology Technology: