WorldChanging offers good links to and an assessment of the UN report released today: the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment.
The vast majority of news reports about the Assessment emphasize its dark, “sobering” presentation. This isn’t surprising—the planet’s environmental systems are under a lot of stress, and if things don’t change, we’re in for disaster. But that's an important caveat—if things don’t change. [...]
The doom and gloom of the majority of news reports and blog posts about the MEA feeds the all-too-common perception that things are so bad that there’s nothing that we can do about it. The people whose political oxen would be gored by aggressive shifts towards foresight, sustainability and bright green industries have everything to gain from the rest of us giving up. The scenarios give us ways to imagine solutions—multiple solutions, with different choices and benefits—to the very real problems we face; in short, they give us reasons not to give up.
The Millennium Environmental Assessment doesn’t give a detailed, step-by-step set of instructions as to how to achieve the more positive futures they lay out. That wasn’t the point of the exercise, or even of the scenarios. They just needed to remind us that the future remains in our hands.