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Ecologist calls for creation of an international panel to assess human behavior

Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich is urging fellow ecologists to join with social scientists to form an international panel that will discuss and recommend changes in the way human beings treat one another and the environment.

Ehrlich is scheduled to call for the establishment of a Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB) during a speech at the 89th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 2. The goal of MAHB will be to avoid the approaching collision between humanity and its life-support systems, he noted.

''For the first time in human history, global civilization is threatened with collapse,'' said Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford. ''The world therefore needs an ongoing discussion of key ethical issues related to the human predicament in order to help generate the urgently required response.''

As a precedent, he pointed to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - an organization of scientists that has issued several highly regarded reports assessing the possible impacts of rapid climate change and the actions that might be taken to reduce those threats. The conclusions of that panel are based on state-of-the-art science, somewhat filtered by political considerations, Ehrlich said.

''Similarly there is now a global effort by hundreds of scientists to evaluate the condition of the world's ecosystems - humanity's life-support apparatus - called the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment,'' he continued. ''But there is no parallel effort to examine and air what is known about how human cultures, and especially ethics, change, and what kinds of changes might be instigated to lessen the chances of a catastrophic global collapse.''

Ethics and humanity

Although modeled on the ecosystem assessment project and the IPCC, MAHB would mainly focus on the social sciences, providing more consideration of the ethica
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
1-Aug-2004


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