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Pages 15-20

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From page 15...
... Can the transition to a stable human population also be a transition to sustainability, in which the people living on earth over the next halfcentury meet their needs while nurturing and restoring the planet's life support systems? The toll of human development over the last half-century on the environment suggests that the answer may well be "no." The examples of Appalachian coal country, the Aral Sea, or the Southeast Asian forest fires serve as vivid reminders of how devastating to both society and the environment the implications of heedless development 15
From page 16...
... Early thinking on sustainability issues for example, the World Conservation Strategy2 was firmly grounded in a scientific understanding of the workings and limits of resources and environmental systems. But, with the possible exception of the ozone protocols, the central thrusts of many recent sustainability initiatives have been shaped more by political than scientific ideas.
From page 17...
... They reflect our conviction that any successful quest for sustainability will necessarily be a collective, uncertain, and adaptive endeavor in which society's discovering of where it wants to go and how it might try to get there will be inextricably intertwined. Humanity is no more master of its fate in interactions with the environment than is a canoeist shooting the rapids of a turbulent rivera vivid image used to suggest the challenges to policy in seeking sustainable development.3 But if we do not suffer the delusion of having total control of the future, neither are we fatalists who believe that the skills of the canoeist, boat builder, and mapmaker are irrelevant to the journey's outcome.
From page 18...
... Despite our understanding of how greatly the prospects for any transition to sustainability depend on substantial international political stability and effective domestic governance, we have not explored the political threats or all possible social threats (e.g., terrorism, violence) to such conditions or how they might be mitigated.
From page 19...
... Chapter 4 draws on current scientific understanding to outline some of the most significant environmental threats and opportunities that the voyage might encounter. Chapter 5 explores the contributions that appropriate monitoring and indicator systems might make for our abilities to proceed in a turbulent world of surprise and inevitable policy failures.

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