Despite significant progress in our awareness, understanding and policy engagement in actions to solve global environmental challenges, we now face a planetary emergency. The human pressures on the planet fuelling this emergency are not only continuing to rise, they are reaching dangerous levels, putting us at risk of triggering irreversible loss of ecological functions and a manageable climate. Perhaps a central reason for this failure to reach only a minority of citizens in countries around the world, is our tendency to communicate the climate and nature crises as environmental problems, instead of talking about humans and solutions. The author of this introductory chapter to Part VII on “communicators” argues that a reason for this inability to engage the broader citizenry is not poor ways of communicating, but rather communicating the wrong narrative; that the collection of chapters in this part of the book should be a battle cry to amplify the positive story of the benefits and opportunities that a transition to sustainability offers.
Johan Rockström and Nicholas Stern
The science is unequivocal. We as humanity face a climate crisis, a biosphere crisis and a health crisis, which all interact across scales from local communities to the planetary scale, placing us at an unprecedented state of risk. The corona crisis is a manifestation of the social and ecological vulnerabilities in the Anthropocene, and provides ample support for the need to move quickly and decisively to bend the global curves of greenhouse gas emissions and to slow and halt the undermining of the natural ecosystems on Earth. Inter-disciplinary research, across the social sciences, humanities, economics, to the Earth system sciences, plays a pivotal role in providing early warnings, lessons learnt and generate solutions for a sustainable future. Science, technology and innovation, working with communities and societies across the world, can be the means of achieving the sustainable, equitable and resilient future for both people and the planet that we seek.