· Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

New book rises to the global sustainability challenge

Strategies for our Earth Photo: Naturefund

In the wake of the Copenhagen climate conference, which ended without a clear mandate for global climate protection, the new book Global Sustainability - A Nobel Cause, published by Cambridge University Press, addresses the main lines of conflicts and offers new solutions.

Nobel laureates point out strategies

The contributing authors - Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, medicine, economics and peace, top-level political leaders, representatives of major NGOs and renowned experts on sustainability - point out strategies for the stabilisation of the climate and global sustainable development. The open access publication is now available for download.
The new book builds upon the presentations and discussions of the first symposium in a series of Nobel laureate conferences on global sustainability, initiated by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), in 2007.

Brightest minds of our time

Schellnhuber says: “The idea of the Nobel Cause symposia series is to bring together some of the brightest minds of our time to come up with solutions to some of the most pressing problems of our time.The publication serves as a guide to global sustainability. One would think that Copenhagen could have brought better results if this book had been a compulsory read for state leaders.”Global Sustainability includes more than 30 chapters, offering a mixture of thought-provoking essays and scientific texts. It addresses a broad audience, covering a diverse range of topics, from the latest findings of climate science, technological innovations and economic incentives to questions of communication, values and beliefs.

Climate change and global poverty, two sides of the same coin

Renowned British economist Lord Nicholas Stern presents key elements of his proposal of a “global deal” to address the dual challenge posed by global warming and underdevelopment.“Climate change and global poverty are two sides of the same coin. Both challenges must be addressed together. If we fail on one, we will also fail on the other,” emphasises Stern.Sunita Narain of the Indian Centre for Science and Environment points out the critical need to account for the different histories of rich and poor countries. Narain argues that in order to reach a just global deal on access to common goods, the respective pathways of past economic development and greenhouse gas emissions have to be taken into account.

A truly imperative endeavour for our generation

Mario Molina of the University of California in San Diego, who was among the first scientists to describe the chemical reactions depleting the stratospheric ozone layer, compares the climate change challenge to the ozone-hole crisis. The Nobel laureate draws on his ozone expertise and recent involvement in efforts to combat climate change and contain air pollution in the developing world.“Solving the climate change and air quality dilemmas is not just well justified from a purely economic point of view, but ethical considerations imply that it is a truly imperative endeavour for our generation,” Molina states.

Call for a great transformation

Nobel laureate John Sulston powerfully makes the point that trust – a prerequisite if global sustainability is ever to be achieved in a world where incentives to a free ride persist – is impossible without open access to information and sharing of knowledge.Global Sustainability concludes with the Potsdam Memorandum, which was adopted by the participants of the Potsdam Symposium and calls for a ‘Great Transformation’. This transformation in the human-environment interaction on Earth is the unifying point of reference that binds this collection of essays together. Go to Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

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