'Save the planet', science leaders urge G8 governments

Earth's horizon Scientists are calling on leaders to help manage the environment for the benefit of future generations

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Leaders of the global science community have issued joint statements to world leaders meeting at the G8 summit later this month in the US.

National science academies from 15 countries have called on the leading industrialised economies to pay greater heed to science and technology.

The academies include those from the US, China, India and the UK.

The organisations agreed three statements on tackling Earth's most pressing problems.

According to Dr Michael Clegg of the US National Academy of Sciences: "In the long term, the pressing concerns are managing the environment in a way that assures that future generations have a quality of life that's at least as equivalent to the quality of life we enjoy today."

As the host G8 nation, the US national academy has taken the lead this year, working with counterparts to draw up a co-ordinated message for the summit.

For the past seven years, science academies representing countries that are attending the summit have issued statements to inform delegates of vital science and technology matters.

This year, they are targeting leaders attending not just the G8 summit but also the G20, the Rio+20 environmental summit, and other important events.

'Influential' message

In past G8 summits, the views of the collective academies have been influential. World leaders including Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have previously met with representatives of the global science community and the text from their statements has ended up in the final summit communiques.

"I think most governments pay attention to science," says Dr Clegg

"The fact we have a consensus of a great diversity of countries is an indication of the importance of priorities that we as leaders of the global science community place on these issues".

Test tube The message from the global science community is taken seriously at the G8 summit

The three so-called "G-Science" statements say that priority should be given to finding ways of finding a coherent way of simultaneously meeting water and energy needs, building resilience to natural disasters and developing better ways of measuring greenhouse gas emissions in order to see if individual countries are meeting their international obligations to reduce emissions.

The first G-Science statement called on leaders to consider water and energy as closely linked issues. Otherwise, it says, there will be shortages of both. The statement recommends that governments pursue policies that integrate the two, emphasise conservation and encourage regional and global cooperation.

The second statement says more can be done to minimise the impact of major international disasters, such as a tsunami or nuclear accident. In addition to regular risk surveillance, the G-Science statement recommends building "resilience" to catastrophic events by, for example, improving public health systems.

The third statement calls for more accurate and standardised methods to estimate human and natural sources and sinks of greenhouse gases. It recommends that all countries produce annual reports of their greenhouse gas emissions and sinks. The academies also call for greater international cooperation to share new technologies and scientific data.

The statements have been signed by the leaders of the national science academies of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the US.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Science and technology are our best hope, far better than ancient fairy stories and infinitely better than populist babble in the gutter press.

    However, we need to bear in mind that even science and technology are not infallible. In the past science had us believe the earth was flat and that the sun revolved round it.

    We therefore need to treat scientific announcements with some caution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    It doesn't matter how many countries there are or whether one or other of them is "greater" than the next. Fact is, there is only one planet so should we pay more attention to well (and objectively) researched evidence and shape our policies accordingly? Of course we should. Will we? Doubt it, too much vested interest at national and individual level to make the kind of changes needed . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    If you want to support climate change, and have Politicians that support it be active and vote. The Politicians get elected, and re-elected in the end because of our voting. Apathy and complaining alone solve nothing. Gripping solves nothing.

    International cooperation, etc. is all fine but normal people have to show they support these changes, and that they want these changes. Vote, vote, vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Economic growth tracks industrialization. Mathematics and science have provided both. Unfortunately science has moved on; politicians and economists have not. Infinite growth from finite resources is stupid. The biggest industries on the planet should be carbon capture and sustainable energy; huge opportunities!. Because if that thin, blue haze of atmosphere starts to turn green - time to panic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    You don't need to believe or disbelieve the scientists. Just read the news and follow a few BBC science shows. It is obvious that there are growing shortage of most vital raw materials and that the population has grown beyond the capacity of the Earth to feed them without increasing inputs of scarce resources. Eg fish are depleted all over the world.
    Just use common sense. Should we do something?


Comments 5 of 7


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