27 September 2012 — World-leading scientist Johan Rockström and National Geographic photographer Mattias Klum have joined forces to explore the real relationship between Earth and humans.

Their book, The Human Quest: Prospering Within Planetary Boundaries, examines whether it is still possible to steer the world to a stable environment which is also able to support the global economy.

Merging science and photography The Human Quest combines evidence from the many scientific disciplines to diagnose the problems but also look at the opportunities for a framework towards a sustainable future.

That framework is built from the unique perspective of nine planetary boundaries defined as: climate change, ocean acidification, stratospheric ozone, biogeochemical, global freshwater use, land system change, biodiversity loss, chemical pollution, and aerosol loading.

Rockström, the executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, a professor in Natural Resource Management and a senior scientist at Stockholm University, says the world needs to “find ways to ‘turn’ these curves away from global risks – and we need to do it now”

This could be the most decisive decade in human history, he says.

“This book is about deepening the insights of our social-ecological predicament as a source of hope and innovation.

“We need nothing less than a great transformation of societies in the world, and I believe it is possible.”

Klum, who has worked full-time as a freelance photographer since 1986 with other positions including being a member of the board of trustees at World Wildlife Fund Sweden and an International Union for Conservation of Nature Goodwill ambassador, says the book highlights the action that needs to be taken now.

“With a fundamental shift in mindset, humanity can succeed in a transition to global sustainability. The Human Quest can help turn the page to that new paradigm.”

Key messages in The Human Quest include:

  • We are the first generation to recognize that humanity has become a force capable of undermining Earth’s capacity to support our prosperity.
  • We live in a globalized phase of environmental change. Our economies and the world as we know it is at risk of undergoing major changes.
  • We live in an interconnected world. The stability of the Earth system and its long-term capacity to support our wellbeing has become every nation’s and citizen’s concern. We must all manage the biosphere as a world community.
  • If we keep Earth within the safe operating space of these planetary boundaries, we can all thrive. But if we push these scientifically drawn boundaries, we will trigger catastrophic events.
  • Our Human Quest is to change the trajectory of negative global environmental change to support development, as humanity moves toward a population of nine billion people.

The The Human Quest, which has a foreword by former US president Bill Clinton, is available as an ebook. A preview ‘taster” copy is also available.