Global Change and the Emerging Agenda for the Earth Scientist

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 2
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
The Pacific Rim and its environment involves a vast array of natural phenomena, and a vast array of situations which show the impact of man. Almost half the world's population of over five billion live in nations" which border the Pacific, but the concentration is focussed in the North. Great experiments are occurring in this region, the industrialization and energy development in- Japan and China, the growth of Indonesia, (now 168 million - soon 368 million; Brown and Jacobson, 1986), the enormous developments of agriculture and the metals resource base in Australia and China. At the same time, the Pacific Rim does not project images of hopelessness, the mood is upbeat. Over the past decade, incomes have increased substantially in most of the major countries of Pacific Rim (e.g. over the period 1980-86, + 58% in China, + 21% in Japan, + 34% in South Korea; Brown and Jacobson, 1986). In September, 1986, at the general assembly of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) in Bern, Switzerland, representatives of over 50 nations approved a new initiative, "The International Geosphere Biosphere Programme: A Study of Global Change". The focus of this new program is "To describe and understand the interactive physical , chemical , and biological processes that regulate the total Earth system, the unique environment that it provides for life, the changes that are occurring in this system, and the manner in which they are influenced by man. The IGBP will be a tightly-defined programme of research, directed at providing fundamental knowledge that will serve as a basis for assessing likely future changes on the Earth in the next 100 years" (ICSU, 1986). For the earth scientist, and all resource scientists, there is an emerging agenda; new priorities are appearing, new questions are being asked. The recent report of the World Resources Institute (1986) focusses on this emerging agenda. Topics which are at centre stage in this report include the following: The environment and human health Tropical deforestation The atmosphere as a shared resource and climates Soil-degradation Rural-urban migrations Food and agriculture The diversity of species-ecosystems Freshwater as a finite resource Coastal areas and resources
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