Walter R. Erdelen is an ecologist and biogeographer with extensive international experience. Development of vision, concepts and strategies, targeted capacity building and networking have been essentials of his policy-related scientific work. He was previously Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Jacques G. Richardson is an author and journalist concentrating on the sciences and engineering, and has also worked extensively in strategic analysis and planning. He spent 13 years at UNESCO as head of its Science and Society Section.
The complexity of complexity - the authors reveal how the system components interact in multiple, interdependent ways. They develop a picture on how Homo sapiens in our age of the Anthropocene crosses thresholds of Earth's safe-operating space for humanity, describing the disastrous impact of Homo faber on climate, water, biodiversity, migration or international relations. Solutions and loopholes, emphasizing the importance of education, science, technology and innovation, make the book a must to read. - Walter J. Ammann, Founder, Global Risk Forum GRF Davos Control of complexity is the central parameter of evolution. Extremely long, error-free messages are needed for control. Science is humanity's best means for such messages and is thus the sine qua non of power in the 21st century, as this book shows. - Jesse Ausubel, Director, Human Environment Project, Rockefeller University, USA The scale and scope of Erdelen's and Richardson's book is truly remarkable. Tracing the impact of human activity on the planet's complex ecosystem and the resulting environmental problems, their broad and interdisciplinary systems approach embraces both history and foresight. The resulting linked, insightful essays culminate in the key question for the future of Homo sapiens: Do we have the ability to moderate our behavior so that we live with more measured consumption while continuing to reap considerable rewards from education, science and industry? - Colin Blackman, Centre for European Policy Studies; Editor of Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance; Former Editor of Futures, and foresight Science must be an essential component of any effective strategy leading to sustainable development. As the authors emphasize, science clears the mind, sobers our views and leads to robust decisions. Wise counsel from the UN's new Scientific Advisory Board should help member nations prioritize the most important challenges ahead. Science thus assumes a major role in solving global and interlinked problems related inter alia to poverty, food security and public health, water management, and biological diversity. - Vladimir Y. Fortov, Russian Academy of Sciences This book is much needed today to help us understand the complexity of the challenges facing all Earth's inhabitants. It advances solutions to learning how to live in harmony with Nature and with each other. Erdelen and Richardson bring years of experience to a survey which should be required reading for everyone working on the quest for sustainability. - Julia Marton-Lefevre, former Director-General, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Two international investigators, a social scientist and a life scientist with extensive leadership experience in UNESCO, take a well-researched new look at the human stance in a world of growing complexity and risk of existence. The authors unravel human pursuit in exploiting nature as one root of growing disharmony in human/environment relationship, up to present-day global climate change, massive migration and loss of biodiversity. Core chapters highlight education, science and philosophy (especially ethics) as key tools to combat, should humankind ... sustain its further development. This compact, highly-readable and challenging book will deserve a wide and receptive audience. - Kurt Pawlik, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of Hamburg, Germany; former President, International Social Science Council We have entered the sustainable development decade where to achieve the desired goal, we should examine every programme from the point of view of social and economic and environmental sustainability. I am glad that this book brings out very clearly the complexity of the world problems and the strategies to face them. I hope the book will be read widely. - Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, Founder Chairman, M.S. Swaminathan Foundation An excellent book about complex systems, written by two old hands of UNESCO - Wolfgang Werner in Erdkunde 73 (2) 2019, 156