Future Earth the subject of new Science editorial

Johan Rockström is the author of a recent editorial about Future Earth. Credit: M. Axelsson/Azote
An editorial written by Johan Rockström in the journal Science delves into Future Earth's role in international scientific collaboration.

Future Earth is the subject of a recent editorial published in the journal Science. The editorial is written by Johan Rockström, Profesor in Global Sustainability at the Stockholm Resilience Centre of Stockholm University, and highlights the legacy and promise of Future Earth.

In this op-ed, published in January, Rockström traces the evolution of international collaborations surrounding sustainability science from 1986 to the present. He notes that Future Earth is a natural extension of the legacy of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). This program, which closed in 2015, was responsible for “coordinating and catalyzing” research into the Earth system. IGBP, he adds, played a critical role in the birth of the term “Anthropocene,” the planet's current geologic era named for the impacts of people on biodiversity and geology. Rockström writes:

The recently launched Future Earth research program builds on this legacy and is the right response to the new scientific challenges.

Rockström also addresses the results of several projects coordinated by IGBP, including the Global Carbon Project (GCP) and Past Global Changes (PAGES), which have both transitioned to Future Earth. These research projects and others in the Future Earth platform have spearheaded major insights into climate science and global sustainability, he writes. Rockström notes, for instance, a 2015 PAGES study that found that sea level rise driven by climate change could reach six metres, even if nations meet the temperature targets set by current international agreements. Rockström ends his editorial by writing:

Earth system resilience and stabilization are necessarily rising to the top of political and scientific research agendas. With humanity at a critical juncture, Future Earth has the potential to become the largest, most ambitious international research program ever undertaken.