[MCN] Sustainability: Getting from promise to practice

Lance Olsen lance at wildrockies.org
Wed Jun 17 09:35:16 EDT 2015

PNAS 2015 112 (24) 7348-7355; published ahead of 
print June 16, 2015, doi:10.1073/pnas.1503751112

Natural capital and ecosystem services informing 
decisions: From promise to practice
Anne D. Guerry, Stephen Polasky, Jane Lubchenco, 
Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Gretchen C. Daily et al
"  ...   achieving sustainable levels of population and consumption  ...  "

"  ...  (iii) reforming institutions to change 
policy and practices to better align private 
short-term goals with societal long-term goals."

index/key words:
sustainable development, resilience, human 
well-being, decision making, beneficiary

Abstract (pdf is open access at link)

The central challenge of the 21st century is to 
develop economic, social, and governance systems 
capable of ending poverty and achieving 
sustainable levels of population and consumption 
while securing the life-support systems 
underpinning current and future human well-being. 
Essential to meeting this challenge is the 
incorporation of natural capital and the 
ecosystem services it provides into 
decision-making. We explore progress and crucial 
gaps at this frontier, reflecting upon the 10 y 
since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. We 
focus on three key dimensions of progress and 
ongoing challenges: raising awareness of the 
interdependence of ecosystems and human 
well-being, advancing the fundamental 
interdisciplinary science of ecosystem services, 
and implementing this science in decisions to 
restore natural capital and use it sustainably. 
Awareness of human dependence on nature is at an 
all-time high, the science of ecosystem services 
is rapidly advancing, and talk of natural capital 
is now common from governments to corporate 
boardrooms. However, successful implementation is 
still in early stages. We explore why ecosystem 
service information has yet to fundamentally 
change decision-making and suggest a path forward 
that emphasizes: (i) developing solid evidence 
linking decisions to impacts on natural capital 
and ecosystem services, and then to human 
well-being; (ii) working closely with leaders in 
government, business, and civil society to 
develop the knowledge, tools, and practices 
necessary to integrate natural capital and 
ecosystem services into everyday decision-making; 
and (iii) reforming institutions to change policy 
and practices to better align private short-term 
goals with societal long-term goals.

"On a world-wide basis, from the time agriculture 
began, almost 80 million tons of carbon have been 
released from the soil (Rattan Lal, soil 
scientist, Ohio State University). Up until the 
late 1950s, tillage (plowing) released more 
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all the 
burning of oil and coal in history."

" Š not tilling the soil begins to build up the 
carbon content of the soil. You might call this 
'carbon farming' ... Obviously, these programs 
are currently not big money-makers for farmers."

"Energy agriculture - carbon farming"
Don Hofstrand
co-director AgMRC
Iowa State University

If the link doesn't work, just open your browser and search the web for
"Energy agriculture - carbon farming" Don Hofstrand

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