Imagine someone telling you: “We are living a completely sustainable life. Exploitation of our resources for example fishery is not dangerous and there will be enough left for our children and grandchildren.” Of course you’d reply: “No, we aren’t living a sustainable life. We can’t go on like this forever.” But how could you conquer your opponent by using facts? You’d need some empirical data and even more importantly models that predict the future development of your specific parameters in a reliable way. Without possessing such models, it is very hard to compete against opponents in politics and to ensure better sustainability policies for future generations.
As you can imagine, developing such models is not trivial. Jacqueline M. McGlade devoted most of professional life to the development of models of ecosystems. She developed so called “Lotka-Volterra” fishery assessment models in her early career, that take into account the nonlinear dynamics in the relation of prey and predators. Later on she worked for on invasion exponents, phenotype dynamics and evolutionarily stable attractors in a wide range of ecosystems.
Since 2003 Jaqueline M. McGlade is Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EAA) in Copenhagen, Denmark. The EAA is an organization that tries to establish a monitoring network for the European environment. Taking into account the short introduction of this article we can now see the tremendous importance of this task: We must be able to assess our impact on nature in order to develop approriate counter-measures. Without realiable data we can’t persuade key actors of our industry and society to change towards a more sustainable policy.
We are meeting Jacqueline for dinner tonight, so we’ll be back to you with more insights soon!