Earth 2050: Not So Gloomy a Forecast

But people must begin to manage its ecosystems to put the planet on a sustainable path, a new report says.

Published: 23-Jan-2006

N class=text> When researchers scan the global horizon, overfishing, loss of species habitat, nutrient run-off, climate change, and invasive species look to be the biggest threats to the ability of land, oceans, and water to support human well-being.

Yet "there is significant reason for hope. We have the tools we need" to chart a course that safeguards the planet's ecological foundation, says Stephen Carpenter, a zoologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "We don't have to accept the doom-and-gloom trends."

That's the general take-home message in an assessment of the state of the globe's ecosystems and the impact Earth's ecological condition has on humans.

Thursday, officials released a five-volume coda to the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, an ambitious four-year attempt to explore the relationship between the environment and human development. Summary reports of the findings as they affected four international environmental treaties were released last year. These new volumes represent the detailed information that underpins the earlier reports.

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