Newsletter forthcoming. To be on the list or request more information email MAHB info
So far we have the website and this blog, and several groups around the world working as part of MAHB. . The website also has a link to the WIKI which is the most active part of the project on line, and also points to second life meetings.
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Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB): Abstract
by Tom R. Burns, Paul Ehrlich, Don Kennedy, Atle Midttun, Nina Witoszek
Millennial assessments of the environmental problems confronting people of all nations have shown that the problems are severe and, in large part, the product of human activities. Climate change, decline of food security, loss of biological diversity, depletion of water and other vital resources with consequent conflict, use of unsustainable and environmentally malign energy technologies, deleterious changes in patterns of land use, and toxification of the planet with unregulated pollutants that may be dangerous even in traces, all threaten the human future. Yet society stubbornly refuses to take comprehensive steps to deal with them.
Through a MAHB inaugural global conference, involving scholars, politicians and a broad spectrum of stakeholders, followed by workshops, research activities, and the construction of a human dimensions portal, the MAHB will begin to re-frame people’s definitions of, and solutions to, sustainability problems. The MAHB would encourage a global discussion about what human goals should be (i.e., “what people are for”) and examine how cultural change can be steered toward creation of a sustainable society. A key task will be to get governmental buy-in and the support of other key decision makers in the media, industry, academia, religious communities, foundations, and elsewhere who can participate in the discussion and are in positions to amplify outreach and help to accelerate needed changes in public perceptions and institutional structures.
Research will also be central to the program, recognizing that we now need more insights from the social sciences and humanities than from biology and the physical sciences. It would focus on analyzing and evaluating the attitudes and practices of individuals and groups. In relation to both outreach and research functions, MAHB envisions establishing an “observatory” on behavior. It would gather evidence from existing documents and established databases as well as from a variety of global stakeholders, and promote new directions for outreach and new research projects. The behavioral observatory will establish a MAHB-line (similar to Medline), providing access to social science and humanities research relating to sustainability. It will have an interactive portal receiving and providing up-to-date information about particular environmental problems; human factors relating to these problems; and initiatives to deal with them.
The observatory will work with the MAHB secretariat to develop outreach-research programs that explore the role of values in behavior and on human well-being to determine what institutional and cultural barriers stand between declared values and actual practices, the factors that drive human happiness and fulfillment, and the implications of these factors for ecological sustainability. It will raise questions about how societies measure success and happiness, depict the links between global environmental threats and lifestyle choices, and embed the human story in a deeper understanding of humankind’s relationship to nature. The MAHB will be sensitive to the way things can change fast when current events touch on what people already emotionally believe. In Iran, in China, in Iraq, the power of Internet social networking has been demonstrated, from smart mobs (a play on “mobiles”) to the new uses of twitter and facebook to market everything and raise venture capital. In response to these new modes of communication, social change has a new vitality, bordering on chaos but seeming to cohere in people’s sense of right and good. MAHB expects to create a presence by raising questions that are challenging, and touch the consciousness of those who were without a voice. Huge numbers of people all over the world know that sustainability, climate issues, economic exploitation, are problems. What they will respond to is new thinking about solutions. Humanity cannot avoid dramatic change, but potentially it can do a much better job of managing it.