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Finding Hope in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

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Abstract: 

Over the past quarter century, a new scientific activity has emerged: collective assessments by large numbers of scientists from different disciplines combining their expertise to better understand human interrelations with nature and to inform policy. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment exceeded all such assessments before it in both the breadth of its coverage and the depth of its analysis of socioecological system dynamics. The findings are not encouraging. Nearly all ecosystems are being degraded and will continue to be degraded for decades to come even if policy changes are initiated now. For scientists participating in the assessment, the MA had another disconcerting aspect. It clearly shows that our fragmented, disciplinary knowledges cannot simply be combined to form an understanding of a whole complex system. Counterbalancing the despair of the findings and scientific difficulties of aggregating specialized knowledges, the MA demonstrated the potential of a deliberative democratic approach to grappling with complex problems.
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Keywords: Evaluación de Ecosistemas Milenio; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment; aprendizaje compartido; conocimiento experimental; deliberative democracy; democracia deliberativa; environmental assessment; epistemology; epistemología; evaluación ambiental; experiential knowledge; shared learning; sistemas socioecológicos; socioecological systems

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Energy and Resources Group, 310 Barrows Hall, MC 3050, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3050, U.S.A., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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