President of the Stanford Center for Conservation Biology, Ehrlich recently proposed the creation of a global Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB), a follow-up to the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and similar climate-change efforts but with a specific focus on human behavior.
"[MAHB] was named to emphasize that it is human behavior toward one another and toward the planetary systems that sustain us that requires assessment and modification," Ehrlich said. In 2006, he participated in a pilot MAHB project led by the Woods Institute that focused on climate change in California, with special emphasis on the ethical dimensions of climate policy discussions in the state. Ehrlich will discuss that project during his Feb. 19 AAAS lecture, "Ethics, the Stanford Pilot MAHB and the Role of Universities in Solving the Human Predicament."
According to Ehrlich, universities must play a critical role in developing "a more coherent approach to the functioning and evolution of societies." As an example, he cited the Natural Capital Project, a "new and unprecedented partnership" involving Stanford, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund, which, he said, "aspires to provide maps of natures services, assess their values in economic and other terms, andfor the first time on any significant scale incorporate those values into resource decisions."
While such interdisciplinary efforts represent progress in transforming the academic landscape, Ehrlich cautioned that much more needs to be done, from increasing university outreach to recognizing contributions made by people not in tenure-line positions but who nonetheless contribute significantly to outreach, teaching and resea
Contact: Mark Shwartz