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Focus: Impacts of Humans and Their Economy on the Environment Last Updated on 2009-02-27 21:45:49 The 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 »
Global politics and institutions Last Updated on 2008-09-17 15:41:31 This article was first published in the paper series of the Great Transition Initiative, coordinated by the Tellus Institute and the Stockholm Environment Institute. A familiar refrain in our time is that humanity is at a crossroads with respect to dealing with multiple threats to its preservation as a species: poverty, widespread violence, dangerous illnesses, environmental catastrophes, and social breakdown. While we may have only a narrow window of opportunity to overcome these crises, a well-worn set of themes have been proposed to manage them: investments and financial transfers to the South to kick-start income generation opportunities; improved technology and coordinated policies to address economic, environmental, and health concerns; and genuine international cooperation towards peace and security. Sadly, though not unexpectedly, one senses only fatigue and frustration in... More »
Anthropogenic biomes Last Updated on 2008-09-17 10:49:05 Cropland mosaic near Pokhara, Nepal, 1999. Anthropogenic biomes describe globally-significant ecological patterns within the terrestrial biosphere caused by sustained direct human interaction with ecosystems, including agriculture, urbanization, forestry and other land uses. Conventional biomes, such as tropical rainforests or grasslands, are based on global vegetation patterns related to climate. Now that humans have fundamentally altered global patterns of ecosystem form, process, and biodiversity, anthropogenic biomes provide a contemporary view of the terrestrial biosphere in its human-altered form. Anthropogenic biomes may also be termed "anthromes" to distinguish them from conventional biome systems, or "human biomes" (a simpler but less precise term). Humans are the ultimate ecosystem engineers, routinely reshaping ecosystem form and process using tools and... More »
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Last Updated on 2008-09-17 10:25:10 As a result of growing global environmental awareness, and growing concern about the threats that international trade posed for many species, the idea for a multilateral convention concerning trade in endangered species was formulated in the 1960s under the umbrella of IUCN – The World Conservation Union. This culminated in the drafting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which was signed by 85 countries during a 1973 conference in Washington, DC. The treaty came into force in 1975 and, at the time of this writing (December 2006), 169 nations had become Parties. While it is widely understood that habitat decline is the primary cause of endangerment for most species, trade in species, or parts of species, is a major cause of decline for some groups of animals and plants. This has included spotted cats for their furs,... More »
Trade and the environment Last Updated on 2008-09-17 10:23:34 World trade expansion has raised the issue of the relationship between trade and the environment. Is trade good or bad for the environment? The answer is not obvious. The production of goods that are imported and exported, like other production, will often have environmental effects. But will these effects increase or decrease with expanded trade? Will they affect the exporting nation, the importing nation, or the world as a whole? And whose responsibility is it to respond to environmental problems associated with trade? Questions such as these have received increasing attention in recent years. The eastern spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris orientalis). (Source: NOAA) International attention was first focused on these issues in 1991, when the Mexican government challenged a United States law banning imports of tuna from Mexico. The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act... More »