News: News Archives
Online Technology Will Make AAAS Atlas Your Atlas
Within the next six months, people around the world will have access to information on the web that will help them understand in graphic terms the impact of population growth on the environment, and to use the information to create a tailor-made atlas that reflects their particular geographic and environmental interests.
“Someone living in even the smallest community will be able to zoom in to see what is going on locally in terms of land use, waste and chemicals, and even water use and trends in the consumption of water,” says Lars Bromley, program officer for the AAAS Program on Ecology and Human Needs.
The AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment is already available on the web, and it can be ordered in hard copy format. But soon, the information in it will be divided into hundreds of pieces -- in both graphic and text form -- so that anyone can pull those pieces together onto one page, using only a key word or phrase -- consumption trends, social justice, or women’s issues, for example.
With $95,000 -- obtained through grants from the Turner and Hewlett foundations -- Bromley and his colleagues plan to make the interactive atlas readily available worldwide on the Our Planet website of the United Nations Environment Programme. The atlas will also be sent out on a CD to anyone who requests it. There will be no restrictions on the number of computers that download the atlas.
“People have a hard time grasping how population dynamics affect the environment,” says Richard W. Getzinger, director of AAAS’s Directorate for International Programs. “We use text, maps and diagrams to illustrate the impact humans have on the world’s ecosystems and on natural resources.”
The atlas begins with a history of the impact that humanity has had on the environment, and a description of the current status of the world’s ecosystems. It also describes consumption trends and suggests policy responses to the problems it presents. A second section consists of a series of maps and graphics that document humanity’s impact on waste and chemical use, ecosystems, biodiversity, natural resources, land use, and the atmosphere. Graphics in the atlas illustrate the Earth's fresh water resources, as well as the world’s top per-capita water consumers and how each nation allocates its water use.
The last section of the atlas, produced by the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy, uses case studies to illustrate the relationship between population and environment in areas of North and South America, Asia and Africa.
The atlas, which was originally published last year by the University of California Press, was produced with funding from the Summit Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Turner Foundation.
-- Coimbra Sirica