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Securing natural capital and expanding equity to rescale civilization

Nature volume 486, pages 6873 (07 June 2012) | Download Citation

Abstract

In biophysical terms, humanity has never been moving faster nor further from sustainability than it is now. Our increasing population size and per capita impacts are severely testing the ability of Earth to provide for peoples’ most basic needs. Awareness of these circumstances has grown tremendously, as has the sophistication of efforts to address them. But the complexity of the challenge remains daunting. We explore prospects for transformative change in three critical areas of sustainable development: achieving a sustainable population size and securing vital natural capital, both in part through reducing inequity, and strengthening the societal leadership of academia.

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Acknowledgements

We are indebted to the following colleagues who were kind enough to give useful criticism: K. Arrow, P. Dasgupta, L. Goulder, R. Horn, D. Karp, S. Levin, C. Mendenhall, H. Mooney, P. Raven, E. Rosa, M. Ruckelshaus and H. Tallis. We are grateful for support from the LuEsther T Mertz Charitable Trust, the Moore Foundation, the Winslow Foundation, and Peter and Helen Bing.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Biology, 371 Serra Mall, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA

    • Paul R. Ehrlich
  2. Peter M. Kareiva, The Nature Conservancy, 4722 Latona Ave. NE, Seattle, Washington 98105, USA

    • Peter M. Kareiva
  3. Department of Biology and Woods Institute, 371 Serra Mall, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA

    • Gretchen C. Daily

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P.E., P.K. and G.C.D. wrote the article jointly.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Paul R. Ehrlich.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11157

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