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GLOBAL CHANGE AND OUR COMMON FUTURE PAPERS FROM A FORUM Ruth S. DeFries and Thomas F editors . Committee on Global Change National Research Council National Academy Press Washington, D.G., 1989 Malone,
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special com- petences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the r furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the re- sponsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respec- tively, of the National Research Council. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 89-62950 International Standard Book Number 0-309-04089-2 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 S015 First Printing, November 1989 Second Printing, August 1990 Copyright () 1989 by the National Academy of Sciences No part of this book may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, or electronic process, or in the form of a phonographic recording, nor may it be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or otherwise copied for public or private use, without written per- mission from the publisher, except for the purposes of official use by the United States Government. Printed in the United States of America
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FOREWORD As the decade of the 1980s draws to a close, the world community of nations is on the brink of a new era. Our planet and the global envi- ronment are witnessing the most profound changes in the brief history of the human species. Human activity is the major agent of those changes-- depletion of stratospheric ozone, the threat of global warming, defores- tation, acid deposition, the extinction of species, and others that have not yet become apparent. The roots of global environmental change are embedded in the advances over the past few centuries in the understanding of the natural world and the utilization of natural resources. These scientific and technological advances have produced the driving forces of global change: an exponen- tial growth in the world's population and even more rapid growth in the potential for humans to transform natural resources into goods and services to sustain that population. Over a period of half a million years, the human population has grown to a total of 5 billion individ- uals. Already, 40 percent of the planet's photosynthetic productivity is being used, diverted, or wasted. But already, too, there is a marked shortfall in meeting the basic human needs of more than a quarter of the world's population. During the approximately 4000 days that remain before the dawn of the third millennium, Planet Earth will be asked to accommodate another billion people--approximately equivalent to the current populations of Africa, North America, and Europe combined. Within the next 50 years, we must somehow learn to feed, clothe, house, educate, and meaningfully employ an additional 5 billion individuals--the current population of the entire world. Over 90 percent of this increase will take place in developing countries. To accommodate the doubling of the world's population at an accept- able standard of living, a 5- to 10-fold increase in the productive ca- pacity of the world's agriculture and industry will be required. This is attainable, in principle, through scientific and technological progress, provided humankind makes a long series of small but correct decisions in the management of its affairs. It is theoretically possible for produc- tive capacity to increase 2-fold in 1 decade in developing countries, and in 2 to 3 decades in developed countries. For this challenging possi- bility to become a reality, it is clear that humans must cast off their
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iv unconscious role as the primary agent of global change and replace it with a conscious role as prudent manager of change. A special responsibility rests with the scientific and technological community, which has developed the knowledge base that brings us to this critical juncture. Now, the role of this community is to develop the knowledge base upon which local, national, and global policy decisions can be constructed with confidence. This function, however, cannot be performed independently of the larger society of which science and technology are a part. Thus the Forum on Global Change and Our Common Future was organized to further the dialogue with the public on the key issues related to describing, understanding, anticipating, and responding to the dynamic interactions among the great interlocking physical, chemical, biological, and social systems that regulate Planet Earth's ' unique environment for life and determine the changes in the total earth system. A grand convergence of natural scientists, engineers, social sci- entists, and decision makers will be required worldwide. The World Commission on Environment and Development has argued persuasively that preservation and enhancement of the quality of the human environment, wise stewardship of natural resources, and socioeconomic development are inextricably related and mutually supportive. Moreover, the commission has maintained that a guiding principle in successfully managing these linked elements of global change is found in the concept Of IT sustainable development"--development to meet the needs and aspirations of the present generation without foreclosing options for future generations. This concept implies balanced development between the developed and the developing worlds to achieve intragenerational equity while protecting the natural resource base to ensure intergenerational equity. As revealed in the pages that follow, the tools and techniques for understanding and responding to global environmental change are within reach. It is not acceptable to defer action until all scientific issues have been resolved unambiguously, nor is it advisable to undertake ac- tions when the knowledge base is premature. There are salutary actions that can be justified on narrower grounds that also address global envi- ronmental concerns, and there are actions that are prudent even in the face of residual uncertainty. To discriminate among these options, a new, dynamic, and creative interaction between the scientific and tech- nological community responsible for developing the knowledge base and the decision-making institutions in the public and private sectors is needed. The participation of the social sciences must be strengthened; the role of engineering needs to be made more explicit. Nationally and internationally, institutional renewal, adaptation, and innovation will be required in both the knowledge-developing and decision-making domains. An unprecedented degree of cooperation within the world community of nations will be needed. Basic to confronting the challenge of global change is a fundamental reorientation in the way of thinking among individuals everywhere. Ultimately, it is the aggregate effect of individual actions that will maintain Planet Earth's unique environment for life. Individuals shape the collective consciousness; individual consumers make choices that
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v determine industrial policy; to manage change. We are rapidly approaching the end of the 5-century era within which the ebb and flow of military might and economic strength have been the key determinants of power, so perceptively described by Paul Kennedy in his book titled The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (Random House, 1987~. This era was brief--occupying only 1 percent of the span of years known as the period of Modern Man--a scant 0.1 percent of the individual citizens form the political will rip —--I ~ ~ — r - - - ---- r tenure of Homo sapiens on Planet Earth. We need to adopt a time perspective that recognizes that just as Planet Earth is not more than ~~ ~ ~ so also should Homo sapiens be Hallway through its late expectancy, viewed as not being more than halfway through its life expectancy. We are capable of managing our global affairs in a manner that looks forward to another half-million years of survival for our species. human species is no less wise than were the dinosaurs. Surely, the As we near the third millennium, an increasingly interdependent world is at a critical watershed. Never before have we humans as a species and as individual men and women, had such an opportunity to shape our common future. This forum is intended as a contribution to the wide- ranging discussions of the challenges and opportunities to determine that future. Ruth S. DeFries, National Research Council Thomas F. Malone, St. Joseph College and Immediate Past President, Sigma Xi
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PREFACE Over the past few years, scientists, politicians, and the public have become increasingly aware that human activities are profoundly changing the global environment, with potentially severe consequences for human welfare. Almost daily, the media report on some aspect of global change --climate warming, deforestation, acid deposition, species extinction, depletion of stratospheric ozone, or other changes in the earth system. If the world's population continues to grow and if development proceeds according to current trends, we are told, the natural resource base on which our standard of living depends will be unavailable for future generations. The National Research Council's Committee on Global Change recognizes that public understanding of the scientific issues of global change and the implications for policy is crucial for an informed, rational approach to addressing the complex issues of global change. Thus the committee embarked on organizing the Forum on Global Change and Our Common Future, held on May 2-3, 1989, at the National Theatre in Washington, D.~. The need for such a public forum was so widely recognized that the Smith- sonian Institution, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, joined the National Academy of Sciences in cosponsoring the event. The objectives of the forum were threefold: (1) to present to the public a balanced and authoritative view of the wide range of global change issues, including the science of the earth system, the impacts of global change on society, and the implications for public policy; (2) to describe developments in the emerging interdisciplinary approach to the study of the earth system, aimed toward developing the knowledge base on which rational public policy decisions on global change can be pursued; and (3) to delineate the social, political, and economic framework within which the scientific and technological issues and the policy options need to be explored. The forum grew out of several developments over the past decade. The international scientific community, in response to the alarming and overwhelming evidence that the earth system is changing in ways that are not fully understood, is embarking on an ambitious and long-term research program. The International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), launched by the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) in 1986, aims 'to describe and understand the interactive physical, chemical, and vii
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V111 biological processes that regulate the total earth system, the unique environment it provides for life, the changes that are occurring in that system, and the manner by which these changes are influenced by human activities.' The IGBP and other international programs and national efforts, including the U.S. Global Change Research Program, collectively constitute a new, interdisciplinary approach to the study of the earth system, with the ultimate objective being to predict changes in the system fundamental to human well-being. Meanwhile, the United Nation's World Commission on Environment and Development, under the leadership of Mme. Gro Harlem Brundtland, prime minister of Norway, addressed the broad array of social, economic, and political issues associated with ttsustainable development"--development to meet the needs and aspirations of the present generation without' foreclosing options for future generations. Their findings were pub- lished in 1987 in the notable book Our Common Future (Oxford University Press). Political interest in these issues of global environment and sus- tainable development has quickened all over the world. An intergovern- mental panel--the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--has been convened within the United Nations to complement the nongovernmental ICSU activities and to develop policy responses. In the United States, a flurry of legislative proposals was introduced in the 100th Congress. Throughout the world, these issues are being addressed at the highest levels of government. At the forum, the opening address by William Ruckelshaus, in which he described society's stake in global change, set the stage for the two days of discussion. The intrinsic variability of the global environment over the geologic past was described by John Kutzbach as a prelude to an examination of the earth system and its integrated components--the atmosphere, the oceans, terrestrial ecosystems, and human interactions. B. L. Turner II detailed the role of human activity in the global envi- ronment; his discussion was followed by explorations of several mani- festations of global change: greenhouse warming, stratospheric ozone depletion, deforestation, and acid deposition. The implications of these consequences of human activity were developed by Paul Ehrlich. The impacts of global change on human well-being, introduced by Lester Brown, were explored on the morning of May 3 and included impacts on agriculture and water resources and effects on biodiversity, sea level, and industry. The afternoon was dedicated to a discussion of public policy implications by an array of speakers from the interna- tional community and, in particular, from the Western Hemisphere. The final evening was devoted to a panel summation, telecast to 52 Sigma Xi chapters around the country.* A highlight of the forum was the annual Benjamin Franklin Lecture by Mme. Gro Harlem Brundtland. This challenging discussion, sponsored by *For information about the availability of video recordings of the pre- sentations by William Ruckelshaus, Mme. Gro Harlem Brundtland, and the summary panel, contact Sigma Xi, 345 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, Connect- icut 06511.
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ix the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, conveyed the conviction of the World Commission on Environment and Development that a more prosperous and more secure future is within reach. This volume of papers includes 21 of the 38 presentations given at the forum, as well as the address by Senator Albert Gore, Jr., given the evening before the forum. The full range of issues covered in the forum is listed in Appendix A. Many people came together to organize the forum. First and fore- most, thanks are due to the speakers for their time and effort in pre- paring their thoughtful presentations. Harold Mooney, chairman of the Committee on Global Change (Appendix B), originally conceived of the forum and aided its development. From the Smithsonian Institution, Thomas Lovejoy, Robert Hoffmann, and Judith Gradwohl were indispensable in developing the program. Cheryl LaBerge and her staff in the Office of Conference Services provided impeccable logistical support. Thanks go to Pat Curlin and James Rowe of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for their useful input, and to Ed Poziomek and Peter Lykos of Sigma Xi for organizing the teleconferencing. __= ~ _~ _~_ ~ ~ ___ __ =. Mary Keeney and Nan Smith from the National Science Foundation were key in organizing the Franklin Lecture. From the National Academy of Sciences, June Ewing was crucial in all of the organizational aspects of the forum, as was John Perry for his useful insights and comments. For editorial help in preparing the manuscripts for publication, acknowledgments go to Doris Bouadjemi and Susan Maurizi. L. )
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The Forum on Global Change and Our Common Future was organized by the National Academy of Sciences; the Smithsonian Institution, in cooperation with the U.S. Committee for Man and the Biosphere; the American Associa- tion for the Advancement of Science; and Sigma Xi, the Scientific Re- search Society. The annual Benjamin Franklin Lecture, held in 1989 in conjunction with the forum, is a featured activity of the National Science and Tech- nology Week, an event created by the National Science Foundation to help educate the public and encourage America's future scientists and engi- neers. The Franklin Lecture is sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the Na- tional Academy of Sciences. Financial support for the forum was provided by the Business Round- table, the Arthur L. Day Fund of the National Academy of Sciences, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Department of Energy, the Environ- mental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administra- tion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Tinker Foundation, and the U.S. Committee for Man and the Biosphere. The Rockefeller Foundation contributed to the support of the teleconferencing. The views presented in this volume are not necessarily those of the organizing or sponsoring institutions. x
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CONTENTS PART A SOCIETY'S STAKE IN GLOBAL CHANGE 1. Toward a Global Environmental Policy William D. Ruckelshaus, Browning-Ferris Industries 2. Global Change and Our Common Future: The Benjamin Franklin Lecture Gro Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway 3. Global Change and Carrying Capacity: Implications for Life on Earth Paul R. Ehrlich, Gretchen C. Daily, and Anne H. Ehrl~ch, Stanford University; Pamela Matson, NASA Ames Research Center; and Peter Vitousek, Stanford University PART B THE EARTH SYSTEM 4. The Earth System Digby J. McLaren, Royal Society of Canada 5. Mission to Planet Earth Revisited Thomas F. Malone, St. Joseph College, and Robert Corell, National Science Foundation 6. Historical Perspectives: the Millennia Climatic Changes Throughout John E. Kutzbach, University of Wisconsin 7. Mathematical Modeling of Greenhouse Warming: How Much Do We Know? J. D. Mahlman, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 8. The Earth's Fragile Ozone Shield Susan Solomon, Environmental Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration X1 3 10 19 31 34 50 62 73
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X11 9. Terrestrial Ecosystems Peter M. Vitousek, Stanford University 10. Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Roberta Bals tad Miller, National Science Foundation 84 11. The Human Causes of Global Environmental Change B. L. Turner II, Clark University PART C IMPACTS OF GLOBAL CHANGE 12. What Does Global Change Mean for Society? Lester R. Brown, Worldwatch Institute Impacts of Future Sea Level Rise 78 90 103 James M. Broadus, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 125 14. Threats to Biological Diversity as the Earth Warms Robert L. Peters, World Wildlife Fund 15. Deforestation and Its Role in Possible Changes in the Brazilian Amazon Eneas Salati and Reynaldo Luiz Victoria, Escola Superior de Agricultura; Luiz Antonio Martinelli, Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura; and Jeffrey Edward Richey, University of Washington 16. Impacts of Global Change 139 159 Jose Goldemberg, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil 172 PART D IMPLICATIONS FOR PUBLIC POLICY 17. The Global Environment: A National Security Issue Albert Gore, Jr., U.S. Senate 18. Implications for Public Policy: Options for Action Martin W. Holdgate, International Union for Conser- vation of Nature and Natural Resources 19. View from the North Digby J. McLaren, Royal Society of Canada 20. View from the South Marc J. Dourojeanni, The World Bank 177 187 194 198 21. Political Leadership and the Brundtland Report: What Are the Implications for Public Policy? Charles Caccia, Member of Parliament, Canada 204
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X111 22. Global Warming: Is It Real and Should It Be Part of a Global Change Program? Stephen H. Schneider, National Center for Atmospheric Research APPENDIXES A Program--Forum on Global Change and Our Common Future 209 223 B Committee on Global Change and Oversight Committee Members 226
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