The International Council for Science, or ICSU, which has played a behind-the-scenes role in fostering scientific integrity and global collaboration since 1931, has elected Nobel Prize-winning scientist Yuan Tseh Leah of Taipei (Taiwan) to be president of its Earth System Sustainability Initiative for the next three years. Yuan addressed the assembly that elected him and talked about the enormous challenges humanity faces:
If we are to avoid catastrophe and ensure humanity’s continuation on this planet, the keyword for the next few decades will be transformation. That is, we must begin to transform our global society into a truly sustainable civilization…
In the past many excellent ideas were abandoned because there was no funding. This is really heartbreaking. If there is a worthy idea, we must do all we can to find the resources. Just imagine what we could do if just 1% of the estimated US$1 trillion spent by governments on defense every year could be devoted to global sustainability research. After all, the greatest threats to security today no longer come from across borders but are caused by humanity on humanity itself….
Our primary theme for the coming years must be “Action – and solutions -now!”
Needless to say, we couldn’t agree more, as we count the ever-greater number of creatures on the Endangered Species list. Occasionally we joke about feeling jealous of our scientific colleagues who work for the defense industry, with its seemingly inexhaustible supply of funding and enthusiasm. Mustn’t get bitter, though. Chin up and all that.