Sunday, March 2, 2008

Environmental economist: "Work locally to diversify our ecosystems"

No, local actions don't make a difference in the climate change process, which is principally driven by worldwide trends. But Charles Perrings, a professor of environmental economics at Arizona State University, says there's a lot we can do locally to lessen impacts at the local level.

The trick is to work locally to diversify our ecosystems to make them more resilient for what is to come.

Perrings' argument, which he presented 17 February at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, is based upon the findings of the 2005 United Nations' Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). Like the IPCC report, the MA is a comprehensive synthesis of existing information, scientific literature and data; but whereas the IPCC report discusses climate change generally, the MA focuses on improving ecosystem management and human well-being.

'The MA points to the value of regulating ecosystems locally to function over a range of environmental conditions,' Perrings says. 'The challenge now is to deepen our understanding of diversity's impact on both the supply of valued goods and the severity of harmful events.'

Understanding the value of ecosystem change is one more tile in the global climate change mosaic, one that, according to Perrings, scientists and policymakers must understand if they are to accurately assess costs and benefits of proposed actions, track ecological assets and develop means of remedying the problem.

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