Governments and politicians have talked about ‘sustainable development’ for decades.
That’s meeting human needs while protecting, even improving, the environment. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that large numbers of scientists began working toward this end. Robert Kates is co-convener of the Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability – an international network of scientists using the Internet to share ideas.
Robert Kates: Beginning in 1995, the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council created a board on sustainable development. It said, well, let’s define what a sustainability transition would be.
Kates mentioned three requirements for a sustainable world. Everyone on the planet would have their basic needs met. Hunger and poverty would be substantially reduced. And, the natural systems that support life on the planet would be preserved.
Robert Kates: Now what role can science and technology play in that? It turns out that not everything needs new science or technology; some of the things are issues of political will and how we organize ourselves and how we govern ourselves. But there are a lot of areas where a good dose of science and technology might help. And from that was born the idea of sustainability science.
Our thanks to the National Science Foundation.
Our thanks to:
Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.