Former Director, U.S. Geological Survey
Science for a Crowded Planet
Although most people throughout human history have regarded earth’s basic resources as inexhaustible, in today’s crowded world we must act together to mitigate and adapt to the risks generated by a rapidly changing world.
The Earth’s resources are immense, but not unlimited. For instance, nearly half of the world’s original forest cover has been lost, and each year another 16 million hectares are cut or burned. Water is another resource that has been greatly affected. Water shortages are expected to affect nearly 3 billion people in 2025. Air pollution has also become a global environmental problem. It not only affects the quality of the air we breathe, but it also impacts the land and the water. The World Health Organization states that 2.4 million people die each year from causes directly attributable to air pollution.
On top of the depletion of its basic resources, the Earth’s population has exploded. Even though population growth has slowed, the absolute number of people continues to climb; by 2050 the world’s population is expected to rise by 40% to 9.1 billion. As population and demand for natural resources continue to grow, environmental limits will become increasingly apparent. Improving living standards without destroying the environment will become a global challenge.
About the Speaker
Mark Myers, former director of the U.S. Geological Survey, is an internationally recognized geologist. In 1994, he received his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, specializing in sedimentology, clastic depositional environments, surface and subsurface sequence analysis, and sandstone petrography. He earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in geology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
In addition to his position in the U.S. Geological Survey, Myers, is a past president and board member of the Alaska Geological Society, an expert on North Slope sedimentary and petroleum geology, and a sedimentologist for 13 other North Slope field programs.
Friedman, Thomas L. Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution — And How It Can Renew America. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2008. 438 pp.