The 21st century will see monumental change. Either the human race will use its knowledge and skills and change the way it interacts with the environment, or the environment will change the way it interacts with its inhabitants.
In the first case, the focus of this book, we would see our sophisticated understanding in areas such as physics, chemistry, engineering, biology, planning, commerce, business and governance accumulated over the last 1,000 years brought to bear on the challenge of dramatically reducing our pressure on the environment. The second case however is the opposite scenario, involving the decline of the planet’s ecosystems until they reach thresholds where recovery is not possible, and following which we have no idea what happens. For instance, if we fail to respond to Sir Nicolas Stern’s call to meet appropriate stabilisation trajectories for greenhouse gas emissions, and we allow the average temperature of our planets surface to increase by 4-6 degrees Celsius, we will see staggering changes to our environment, including rapidly rising sea level, withering crops, diminishing water reserves, drought, cyclones, floods… allowing this to happen will be the failure of our species, and those that survive will have a deadly legacy.
In this update to the 1997 International Best Seller, Factor Four, Ernst von Weizsäcker again leads a team to present a compelling case for sector wide advances that can deliver significant resource productivity improvements over the coming century. The purpose of this book is to inspire hope and to then inform meaningful action in the coming decades to respond to the greatest challenge our species has ever faced – that of living in harmony with our planet and its other inhabitants.