Erle Ellis, Geography and Environmental Systems, in Greenwire

Published: Jun 7, 2012

In a June 6 piece for E&E Publishing’s daily environmental news website Greenwire, associate professor Earl Ellis, geography and environmental systems, spoke with reporter Paul Voosen in regards to the U.N.’s release of its fifth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5) ahead of this month’s “Rio+20: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” to be held in Rio De Janeiro.

The article focused on GEO-5’s emphasis on “planetary boundaries” as an important aspect of future environmental policy, which “are roughly based on the limits estimated during the past 10,000 years of human activity, and… have been seized upon by policymakers seeking a guide to the future of life on Earth”, wrote Voosen. Ellis, a co-author of the paper “Planetary Opportunities: A Social Contract for Global Change Science to Contribute to a Sustainable Future” for BioScience with a number of other scientists which calls for a middle path that “increase[s] the probability of achieving societal benefits while reducing negative outcomes for Earth systems”, told Voosen that the “physical boundaries” concept remains questionable on a number of issues ranging from its scientific weaknesses to its overemphasis in the media, concluding that “many [scientists] are convinced that focusing on the [boundaries] approach will weaken, rather than strengthen, the role of science in informing society in environmental decision making.”

The original article “Rio+20: Ahead of summit, U.N. report embraces ‘boundaries'” can be read at Greenwire‘s website here.

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