Ecosystems [that is, ecological systems] are composed of organisms interacting with each other and with their environment such that energy is exchanged and system-level processes, such as the cycling of elements, emerge. The ecosystem is a core concept in Biology and Ecology, serving as the level of biological organization in which organisms interact simultaneously with each other and with their environment. As such, ecosystems are a level above that of the ecological community (organisms of different species interacting with each other) but are at a level below, or equal to, biomes and the biosphere. Essentially, biomes are regional ecosystems, and the biosphere is the largest of all possible ecosystems.
Everyone in the world depends completely on Earth’s ecosystems and the services they provide, such as food, water, disease management, climate regulation, spiritual fulfillment, and aesthetic enjoyment. Over the past 50 years, humans have changed these ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber, and fuel. This transformation of the planet has contributed to substantial net gains in human well-being and economic development. But not all regions and groups of people have benefited from this process—in fact, many have been harmed. Moreover, the full costs associated with these gains are only now becoming apparent.
Update on 2009 Forum for Sustainability Science Programs
The Forum was held Thursday,12 February 2009 in Chicago
I draw your attention to the notes from the 2009 Forum for...
Earth ForumLast Updated on 2010-04-23 00:00:00About the Earth Forum
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Update: 2009 Forum for Sustainability Science ProgramsLast Updated on 2009-04-10 00:00:00Update on 2009 Forum for Sustainability Science Programs
The Forum was held Thursday,12 February 2009 in Chicago
I draw your attention to the notes from the 2009 Forum for Sustainability Science Programs held in Chicago, which are now available online at: http://sustainabilityscience.org/content.html?contentid=2512.
Participants brought up a number of important issues that warranted
more discussion than was possible. These included:
What makes sustainability science unique?
Core Competencies for Sustainability Science
Teaching Sustainability Science
Institutional Structures Supporting Sustainability Science
Discussion threads for each of these topics are posted online at:http://discussion.sustainabilityscience.org/forums/21.aspx.
I encourage you to visit the site and post your thoughts. In the coming months, we plan to convene a series of teleconferences to discuss each of these... More »
Water at Center Stage?Last Updated on 2009-03-17 18:05:10
Reporting (Put water centre stage, says UN report) on SciDev.Net 12 March 2009, Naomi Antony writes
Unless water occupies a more central role in decisions regarding crises such as climate change and food security, a global water shortage could ensue — leading to political conflict and insecurity, says a new report.
It summons leaders in government, the private sector and civil society to put water at the heart of their thinking, stressing water's essential role in achieving sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals.
The report, 'Water in a Changing World', is an assessment of global freshwater resources prepared by the World Water Assessment Programme under the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
This Third edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report (WWDR-3) is currently under preparation and will be presented... More »
Arab Environment: Future ChallengesLast Updated on 2009-03-17 17:22:24The Arab Forum for Environment and Development has produced a report, "Arab Environment: Future Challenges". The report assesses the current and future state of a range of environmental issues in the region, from water scarcity to urbanisation.
Reporting (Arab environment 'under threat') on SciDev.Net on 10 March 2009, Wagdy Sawahel notes
"The fragility of the environment of the Arab region — which suffers from widespread desertification and water scarcity — will be exacerbated by climate change unless governments plan for sustainable development and invest in environmental scientific research . . . .
The region faces a temperature increase of 2–5.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, coupled with decreased precipitation of up to 20 per cent and sea level rise that could wipe out areas of agricultural land and displace millions."
View the Full Report (PDF—7.08MB)
Image:... More »
Focus: Impacts of Humans and Their Economy on the EnvironmentLast Updated on 2009-02-27 21:45:49The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a Dear Colleague Letter to the scientific community ". . . encouraging increased research . . . on the links among environment, society and the economy."
Image Above: NSF is supporting research on climate change and Earth's environment, society and economy. Credit: Department of Sustainability and Environment, State of Victoria, Australia More »
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