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ABSTRACT CONTINUED shortages, and the loss of biodiversity. The Earth holds fi nite Climate change constitutes one of the most urgent global resource reserves of materials out of which we construct and sustain our soci- challenges facing society, where the resource in question is our eties. Some of these materials are absolutely essential for life, such common atmospheric receptacle for the greenhouse gas wastes as the rock phosphorus used in agriculture to grow food. Rising of society. Development of actions and strategies for dealing with commodity prices in the last ten years show that demands for mate- this challenge can, potentially, provide models for dealing with rial resources are exceeding supplies. As we depend entirely upon resource scarcity issues coming on line (biodiversity, ecosystem the Earth system and its component ecosystems for our survival, services, water, phosphorous, ores and metals etc.). there is a real possibility that the human demand for resources may lead to global crises in the production of food and the supply of A general paradigm for dealing with resource scarcity is reducing clean water in the form of unexpected climate emergencies, and the need for – and more effi cient use of – the resource, combined much more. In addition, such crises may occur simultaneously and with the adaptation of human activities to changed conditions and/ interact with one another. The essential resources and services pro- or the recognition of resource scarcity. In dealing with resource vided by the Earth system and its ecosystems must be fairly shared scarcity in general, and climate in particular, a major challenge is among the current global population, also taking account of the to channel the knowledge gained on the mechanisms of the Earth needs of future generations. Currently in Europe we are consuming system into political and societal actions. This requires cross- more than our fair share of the Earth’s resources, and use many of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches that integrate the them (e.g. fi sheries) unsustainably. research conducted in many fi elds within the natural sciences with that conducted in other disciplines (including engineering, statistics, The traditional paradigm for progress is growth, i.e. expansion into social science, and hu-manities) to provide solution-oriented results unlimited space. However, limits to planetary resources clearly in- to decision makers. dicate that the further development of humankind will be driven by qualitative changes in the content and structure of socio-economic Resource scarcity is a global issue, although it is not experienced to systems – that is, transformations in our industrial processes and the same extent everywhere and not all regions enjoy the research societal structures – rather than by just upsizing existing invento- infrastructure necessary to support good decision-making. Therefore, ries. It is a deception to think that consumption and growth can regions such as the EU that rely strongly on re-sources from all parts continue in their current form, which assumes excessive environ- of the world and have well-developed research capacities, should mental space, which moreover has endless capacity to absorb not limit their research activities to their own geographical regions. disturbance. A truly green economy cannot be based on the current Existing knowledge on the causes of climate change, for example, growth paradigm and research into the building of an alternative, provides a suffi cient basis for society to act immediately on reducing sustainable economy must urgently be instigated. potential human interference with the climate system. Such knowl- edge is also being further developed for other aspects of the declin- This overwhelming necessity for rapid transformation is also physically ing re-source base. Therefore, the focus in Horizon 2020 should be set by the international 2°C target for climate protection. Former histor- to underpin decisions de-signed to increase the effi ciency and impact ical transformations such as the Industrial Revolution happened more of the societal response. This will, howev-er, include research on the or less accidentally, not on the basis of systems analysis and science- climate and other resource systems in order to better un-derstand based foresight. By way of contrast, the transition to sustainability has systemic interactions, the collection of base-line information, and the to happen over the next decades, and Europe can and should take the estab-lishment of monitoring activities to assess the effi cacy of differ- lead in bringing that transition about in a deliberate way. However, ent mitigation and ad-aptation approaches. there is a blatant lack of data and knowledge on how transformations evolve and how they can be shaped proactively. Therefore, a promi- VISION nent component of Horizon 2020 should be research on transforma- We as a global society are collectively faced with the grand chal- tions to global sustainability (transformation research), which must be lenge of transforming our societies to create a sustainable future. an integrated part of each of the six challenges identifi ed in Horizon Incremental change is not longer an option, if we want to reduce 2020. In the draft version of Horizon 2020, a set of main goals the risk of potential catastrophic outcomes from continued climate for European research related to climate and resource issues was change and ecosystem decline. The Earth’s climate is changing formulated. This text was subjected to comments from a broad range faster than projected in key regions, notably the Arctic, but climate of European scientists from a variety of aspects of climate and natural change is just one of a broader suite of global changes. Others resource research. A synthesis of their responses and visions for future include ocean acidifi cation and de-oxygenation, land and water climate and resource-related research is presented here. CLIMATE 63


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