News: News Archives
AAAS to Launch Expanded Online Version
of Atlas of Population and Environment
In 2001, AAAS joined the University of California Press in publishing the first version of the AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment, a 200-page book full of graphics, charts, colorful maps and projections of data collected over several years by scientists and by NASA satellite instruments. According to Lars Bromley, the main cartographer of this project and program officer of the International Program on Ecology and Human Needs "the Atlas comprises data on global populations that are based on measured data, as opposed to someone's guess."
The Atlas fulfills its mission to serve as a source of the most recent scientific information on human beings and their interactions with the environment. Now, a soon-to-be-updated online version of the Atlas keeps another promise: to provide information that is both dynamic and readily available to audiences worldwide.
The electronic version has all of the content found in the print version but it is not a simple electronic reproduction of the print version of the book. With the online version, readers worldwide can search, compile, and save Atlas content as they want, dynamically creating their own version of the Atlas. To do that, users need only to find the information they want and click on the small icon that says, "Add to folder," which is found throughout the Atlas. The new information is automatically saved in the designated folder along with the user's profile. Every time the user logs on, the folders become available. Old folders can be deleted or edited, and new information can always be changed, added, replaced or deleted. Just like the issues on population and environment, the Atlas too is now changeable and dynamic.
Co-authored by Paul Harrison and Fred Pearce, the Atlas presents data and information in a multidimensional fashion, showing the cross connection between human populations and the environment. In its details, the Atlas reveals how humans have influenced the environment and forced other species to either adapt to human conditions, or risk extinction. Just like volcanoes or earthquakes, humans have become a force in nature that imposes its own constraints.
The AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment is part of the Program on Ecology and Human Needs that aims at disseminating knowledge from the sustainable and environment sciences to audiences worldwide. The goal of the program is to contribute to the information infrastructure necessary for societies to achieve sustainable development.
As AAAS Chairman Peter H. Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, remarks in the 2000 print version of the Atlas, "opinions vary widely on the numbers of people that individual areas, or the world as a whole, can support, and objective analyses of the relationships that exist between population and the environment are few and far between. In view of this lack of readily available, clearly presented information, this volume fills an important void."
And there is still more to come, Bromley says.
"With the popularity and expanded content of the Atlas growing faster than expected, we will be launching a new version of the site that will contain a new user interface, better documentation, and a Flash version of the content based on the latest interface design principles," says Bromley.
The definitive launching data for this upgrade version of the site is not scheduled yet but Bromley promises it will happen soon. The online version of the Atlas is supported by a grant from The Summit Foundation, The Hewlett Foundation and the Turner Foundations, and can be accessed through the URL http://www.aaas.org/international/atlas/. The website is free and open to any user.
9 December 2002