Will major global environmental change take place in the 21st century? How much is known about the change? Can we find out more? Must we take it seriously? Should we do something now, or can we wait a decade or so? This book seeks to answer these questions. Scientists are reaching consensus that rates of change in many of the environmental indicators are already increasing in some cases, and are likely to increase even more rapidly in the 21st century. Although there are still uncertainties, the case is made that the consequences of not taking action are too great to take a chance that the scientists' expectations are wrong. The book leads to the admonition - Think long term, act now! Signs of Change (Chapter 1) Chapter 1 provides a definition of global change and some examples of changes already taking place in the driving forces (demographics, energy consumption, deforestation, 'mining of groundwater', etc. ) and in some of the environmental variables (increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, depletion of stratospheric ozone, desert ification, decreasing biodiversity, etc. ) The chapter raises some important questions for science and society, and concludes that global environmental change is both a scientific and a political issue.
1. Global Change: Both a Scientific and a Political Issue.- 2. The Main International Environmental Research Programmes.- 3. Understanding the Earth System.- 4. Understanding the Climate System.- 5. Policy Responses to Global Environmental Issues: an Introductory Overview.- 6. Intergovernmental Policy Responses to Global Environmental Issues.- 7. Examples of Governmental Responses.- 8. Examples of Responses by Business and Industry.- 9. Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs).- Appendices.- Al. Contact Addresses and Further Information on Authors, Supporting and Sponsoring Organizations.- Addresses of contributors to this monograph.- Addresses of the main bodies active in the field of global environmental change.- Addresses of an international fund for global change research.- Addresses and information on 14 Dutch businesses that assisted financially in the 1992 symposium and the preparation of this book.- A2. List of Acronyms.- A3. Methods for Assessing Effects of Global Change on the Biosphere and Society R. E. Munn.- Methods available.- Sectoral impacts of global change.- Integrated assessments.- The use of historical analogues.- The Mackenzie River basin study: an integrated assessment based on scenarios.- Socio-economic impact of sea level rise in the Netherlands.- Applying some modern ideas on ecosystem integrity to global change assessments.- Concluding remarks.- A4. Instruments for Facilitating the Application of Global Change Research Results to Policy-making R. E. Munn.- Consensus-building.- Environmental impact assessment (EIA) and cumulative environmental assessment (CEA).- Establishing long-term environmental priorities.- A5. Inventory of Adaptation Strategies Relating to Climate Change: A Canadian Example.