Science offers 'state of the planet 2006-2007' to explore global challenges

The challenges are many and deeply interrelated, and with increasing worldwide frequency they are at the top of the news: diminishing biodiversity, declining fisheries, threats to the quality of our air and water, climate change and sustainability. But with policymakers and the public often uncertain about environmental science, the result is political discord or paralysis.

Now the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is offering a new book that provides clear, accessible scientific assessments of the environmental threats confronting Earth. "Science Magazine's State of the Planet 2006-2007" [Island Press, June 2006, 201p; $16.95 soft/$32 hard] contains three dozen essays and news stories written some by some of the world's most respected researchers, policy experts and science journalists.

The essays explore a range of crucial issues: human population; freshwater and marine resources; energy; air pollution; food security; chronic disease and climate change. The Earth's resources are closely connected to the health of the environment, Science Editor-in-Chief Donald Kennedy says in the book's introduction. The quality of fresh water depends on the condition of watershed forests. Agriculture depends on the vitality of surrounding ecosystems that are home to bees and birds. Climate change affects the distribution of plants and animals in the wild.

"To the editors of Science, these relationships--and the changes in them as humans continue to alter the world--compose the most important and challenging issues societies face," Kennedy writes. "Without scientific understanding, those who will make policies in the future will be forced to do so without the most essential tool they could have."

The new book is a compilation of essays and news stories previously published in Science and recently updated, plus an introduction and three new summary essays by Ken

Contact: AAAS Office of Public Programs
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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