Man-made crises 'outrunning our ability to deal with them,' scientists warn

The world faces a compounding series of crises driven by human activity, which existing governments and institutions are increasingly powerless to cope with, a group of eminent environmental scientists and economists has warned.

In today's issue of the leading international journal Science, the researchers say that nations alone are unable to resolve the sorts of planet-wide challenges now arising.

Pointing to global action on (the Montreal Protocol), high seas fisheries and antibiotic as examples, they call for a new order of cooperative international institutions capable of dealing with issues like climate change - and enforcing compliance where necessary.

"Energy, food and water crises, climate disruption, declining fisheries, ocean acidification, emerging diseases and increasing are examples of serious, intertwined global-scale challenges spawned by the accelerating scale of human activity," say the researchers, who come from Australia, Sweden, the United States, India, Greece and The Netherlands.

"These issues are outpacing the development of institutions to deal with them and their many interactive effects. The core of the problem is inducing cooperation in situations where individuals and nations will collectively gain if all cooperate, but each faces the temptation to free-ride on the cooperation of others."

There are few institutional structures to achieve co-operation globally on the sort of scales now essential to avoid very serious consequences, warns lead author Dr Brian Walker of Australia's CSIRO.

While there are signs of emerging global action on issues such as climate change, there is widespread inaction on others, such as the destruction of the world's forests to grow biofuels or the emergence of through lack of appropriate animal husbandry protocols where people, pigs and birds co-mingle.

"Knowing what to do is not enough," says Dr Walker. "Institutional reforms are needed to bring about changes in human behaviour, to increase local appreciation of shared global concerns and to correct the sort of failures of collective action that cause global-scale problems."

"We are not advocating that countries give up their sovereignty," adds co-author Professor Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

"We are instead proposing a much stronger focus on regional and worldwide cooperation, helped by better-designed multi-national institutions. The threat of climate change to coral reefs, for example, has to be tackled at a global scale. Local and national efforts are already failing."

The scientists acknowledge that the main challenge is getting countries to agree to take part in global institutions designed to prevent destructive human practices. "Plainly, agreements must be designed such that countries are better off participating than not participating," they say.

This would involve all countries in drawing up standards designed to protect the earth's resources and systems, to which they would then feel obligated to adhere.

However they also concede that the 'major powers' must be prepared to enforce such standards and take action against back-sliders.

"The major powers must be willing to enforce an agreement - but legitimacy will depend on acceptance by numerous and diverse countries, and non-governmental actors such as civil society and business," they add.

"To address common threats and harness common opportunities, we need greater interaction amongst existing institutions, and new institutions, to help construct and maintain a global-scale social contract," the scientists conclude.

More information: Walker,B., S.Polasky, V.Galaz, C.Folke, G.Engstrom, F.Ackerman, K. Arrow, S.Carpenter,K.Chopra, G.Daily, P.Erhlich, T.Hughes, N.Kautsky, S.Levon, K.Maler, J.Shogren, J.Vincent, T.Xepapadeas, Zeeuw. Looming Global Scale Failures and Missing Institutions. Science 325 (5946): 1345-1346.

Source: ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies

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Sep 11, 2009
"We are not advocating that countries give up their sovereignty,"

Really that IS the core of the problem and the reason they are not suceeding in their efforts.

Sep 11, 2009
Sovereignty is most salient when you disagree with consensus: if you can do nothing but act with instead of against, then you have no sovereignty. However, what if the consensus is theoretically sound? Is expressing sovereignty still a desired quality, or the very image of stupidity? Countries stuck up on this, rather than recognizing its transience, really ought to be squeezed.

Sep 11, 2009
Communism could finish the destruction of obsolete cultures begun in the world wars and bush wars afterward; which enabled the institution of birth control and the 1 BILLION abortions worldwide which could not have occured otherwise.

This is pretty freaking ignorant otto1923... I really don't even know what you think you know or mean.

What "obsolete cultures" were exterminated? And do you really think women are making a choice to prevent or terminate a pregnancy to help society? Birth control and especially abortion is an extremely personal action, with extremely personal consequences, the vast overwhelming majority of women who use birth control or have an abortion don't give a flying f*** about population control. And how did any set of wars enable abortions!?

You my friend have some majorly f***ed up biases if this is truly your world view.

Sep 11, 2009
Pre ww2 Catholicism, Russian and Jewish orthodox, traditional Chinese, Japanese, southeast Asian, German Protestant... All of them and the cultures based on them lost their hold on Eurasia. Those programs- paid for by the Rockefeller foundation- would not have had the chance to offer women the 'freedom to choose' had not those regions been under communist martial law for 3 gens and their medieval cultures slowly, methodically, destroyed. Even a little reflection can tell you this is true.


Oops!! Somebody didn't do their homework before putting out their desperate crackpot conspiracy theories.

Otto1923, here's a little reflection on the actual truth, birth control and abortions have been common practices of humanity for just about as long as there has been civilization, there is concrete evidence of such dating back to 5000 BC, comrade. Last I checked the Rockefellers weren't around that far back, much less overpopulation concerns.

Sep 11, 2009
You my friend are extremely naive. Domesticated. Congratulations! The freedom to choose has little to do with womens rights. 1 BILLION abortions- where would all those people be living, eating? It's freedom to live without war, starvation. But much yet to be done.

I am actually the better informed one here, you ARE in fact demonstrably ignorant and biased and a crackpot conspiracy theorist. At least now everyone knows they can completely disregard anything you say out of hand, as you obviously have some agenda other than truth.

I'm sorry you have such a problem with humanity, maybe if you didn't see so much of it in yourself you'd be able to cope with reality a little better.

Sep 11, 2009
...there is concrete evidence of such dating back to 5000 BC...

Correction: 5000 years ago; 3000 BC, sorry. But you can damn well know that it was going on loooong before that.

And sure, perhaps the majority of those were at the behest of men, to save inheritances or face or what not; I would never deny that historic society was not extremely androcentric. But your theory is contingent on this idea that a secret society of eugenicists have been plotting all this for centuries. It's as problematic as it is childish. You're looking too deep into it, perhaps because you don't want to admit you're part of it.

It's simply greed; the desire of mankind for money and power over all else, because of it's mortality. Simple and sad as that.

Sep 11, 2009
I can understand your refusal to acknowledge fact, makes it much easier to preserve your own ideas. But repeating your rhetoric does not make fact. You're still a crackpot conspiracy theorist. Chihuahua.

Sep 11, 2009
Don't you think people with good lives and families, no matter how well off, read the above article with concern? People who look ahead would want to make sure the future is safe for their decendents.

I think you touched on a truth here. People do want to make sure their child has the best future possible. How is that attained, even in nature? Invest more in your offspring. Simple biological life history strategy. Evident with education. How is this accomplished when it is very difficult to increase the amount of resources you have to invest? Have fewer children. i.e. birth control.

Sep 11, 2009

You're the one doing all the barking.

Sep 12, 2009
The environMentalist and eCONomist calling for world social engineering are dangerously naive, stupid or both. They are a far greater threat. The idiot UN full of these morons, proves they are inept. Human slaughter takes place right under their nose,.. Iran will end up with nuclear weapons,... UN will do zero.

Besides AGW is a absolute scam. Even if it was real, it would solve itself as oil becomes harder and more expensive to extract,.. prices go up, alternative markets then open up for investment. That's free market capitalism,.. not social engineering idiots pushing buttons & turning knobs. Unbelievable!

Btw, it's been cooling globally for the last decade and 40 years ago the grandfathers of the naive GW theorists wrote their thesis on global COOLING.

Sep 12, 2009

CO2-induced global warming is a crisis created by the UN's IPCC and "scientists" willing to find whatever requested, with advertising assistance from former VP Al Gore.

For the real facts about "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun," see:

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel

Sep 12, 2009
Human beings are fundamentally competitive and individualistic in nature. This is not a bane or a 'plague on the precious earth', but a powerful natural force, responsible for the entire of science, and the most powerful of economies in our entire history. The social engineering wack jobs don't like capitalism, as they think that is the core problem. This is their motive, redistribution of wealth, and to damage capitalism!

Once these type of morons are in power via social engineering they will decide who lives and how. No man or group of men have shown in human history to be qualified for this job.

Sep 12, 2009
"The world faces a compounding series of crises driven by human activity"

These idiot environmentalist socialists regard 'human activity' as some plague infesting the world, like we're truspassing on nature,.. and they will act accordingly!. These people have the mentality of PETA, and are no where near qualified to design societies or 'fix nature'. Man is the epitome of nature. Man cannot hold back the ocean. The natural forces of free capitalism will solve all solvable problems or we will succomb to nature and go down with the ship.

The fact that the UN cannot achieve relativily simple things like prevent wars or genecide or poverty, is proof that "world government" is an idiotic sci-fi fantasy.

Sep 12, 2009
Lol, Ottis1923, I was about to post what apparently you discovered on your own in regard to exposing babies to the elements in past history. You owe Defunct an ackowledgement that (s)he was right. You can't split hairs either because they didn't have the medical know how to perform abortions then as exists now ; exposure was their abortions, it was plain murder then as it is now.

Sep 12, 2009
Slaughter begins when the resources of a given region are no longer sufficient to support the population there. UN can only do... nothing

Well that's my point. Famine and genocide are relatively simple problems compared to controlling the global climate or global society. If the left can't even do the simple things, they are not qualified to do anything on the proposed comically grand scale.

Sep 12, 2009
You're missing the point. Social engineering on a global scale by a bunch of idealist naive intellectual knuckleheads will never work, because their ideas are counter to human instincts. Windmills and stupidity will never tame natural forces, and this goes for wars , famine, and the GW.

I don't believe in God either, I believe in the power of natural forces by which I mean capitalistic free society. AGW is a con, invented to get a foot in the door for socialists for redistribution of wealth.

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