A landmark statement released last week, formulated from a review published in Nature last year, illustrates how effectively and rapidly bridges can be built between science and society.
The review suggested that human influence may be forcing the global ecosystem towards a rapid, irreversible, planetary-scale shift (A. D. Barnosky et al. Nature 486, 52–58; 2012). California's governor, Jerry Brown, invited the authors to draw their findings to the attention of policy-makers, industry and the public. An international group of 16 scientists spent the next few months developing the statement and circulating it to the global-change scientific community.
The resulting statement — 'Maintaining humanity's life support systems in the 21st century' (see go.nature.com/prudoq) — is endorsed by more than 500 global-change researchers whose work spans every continent. It warns that unless decisive countermeasures are put into place immediately, climate change, loss of ecological diversity, extinctions, environmental contamination, human population growth and overconsumption of resources will degrade our quality of life within a few decades.
The statement is already catalysing interactions between governments, universities, business leaders and scientists to educate local constituencies about global issues and to stimulate solutions.