Nobel laureates: ‘we are transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10,000 years’
May 23, 2011
Last week the 3rd Nobel Laureates Symposium on Global Sustainability concluded with participants—including 17 past Nobel Prize winners and 40 other experts—crafting and signing the Stockholm Memorandum. The document calls for emergency actions to tackle human pressures on the Earth’s environment while ensuring a more equitable and just world.
“Science makes clear that we are transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10,000 years. Evidence is growing that human pressures are starting to overwhelm the Earth’s buffering capacity,” the memorandum reads. “Humans are now the most significant driver of global change, propelling the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene.”
A sense of urgency is apparent through the entire document, which states bluntly, “we cannot continue on our current path. The time for procrastination is over. We cannot afford the luxury of denial.”
The document lays out eight issues that should be tackled on two tracks—emergency measures and long-term actions—to move society toward ‘a sustainable and equitable global civilization ‘
These issues include reducing poverty, reaching a strong climate agreement, decoupling economic growth from resource and energy consumption, ensuring food for all, remaking the global economy to recognize ecosystem services, increasing awareness about overconsumption and population growth, strengthening global governance, and creating a research center devoted to studying global sustainability issues.
“Our call is for fundamental transformation and innovation in all spheres and at all scales in order to stop and reverse global environmental change and move toward fair and lasting prosperity for present and future generations,” the document reads.
Specific recommendations include putting a high price on carbon, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, creating strict resource efficiency standards, moving beyond GDP as the standard of a society’s success, empowering and educating women worldwide, and increasing science education among others.
“We are the first generation facing the evidence of global change,” the document concludes. “It therefore falls upon us to change our relationship with the planet, in order to tip the scales towards a sustainable world for future generations.”