Although the environmental issues discussed
in this section are presented separately, they all interact within the
complex backdrop of global change. Our ability to understand and unravel
the integrated nature of environmental challenges is improving, enabling
us to consider various solutions to the different problems of a complicated
world and choose the best course to follow – one that causes the
least damage, and leads to the most benefits.
It is also important to tease apart interacting local, regional, and
global drivers of environmental change and to recognize that they vary
substantially from place to place. This is vital to developing the appropriate
mix of responses for any situation. Stratospheric ozone depletion, climate
change, and biodiversity, for example, require global solutions. In
other cases, including fisheries and various challenges related to nitrogen,
regional and/or national solutions also have a major role to play.
The findings reviewed here underscore the urgent need to translate
improved scientific understanding into improved policymaking and action.
As science targets opportunities for better progress, decision makers
can more effectively use this information to address environmental challenges
and thereby improve conditions for all life on earth.