How We Started

Our effort began in 2010 as scientists from many research institutions located in the United States, Canada, Europe, and South America met at a UC Berkeley Institute for Global Change Biology workshop to identify major biological problems arising from the many ways people are now changing the Earth. The result was the publication in the science journal Nature, Approaching a State Shift in Earth's Biosphere, which was the culmination of over a year of work by 22 biologists from four countries (the United States, Chile, Finland, and Spain).

California's Governor Jerry Brown read the article, and contacted the participating scientists to ask, in effect: "If these are such big problems, why aren't you scientists shouting it from the rooftops? And why are you scientists only talking to each other? Why don't you give policy makers and the general public something we can use?"

Following that, a group of 16 global change scientists from seven research and teaching institutions (UC Berkeley, Stanford University, University of Washington, University of New Mexico, University of Helsinki, University of Oslo, and Environmental Health Sciences) continued a dialog with the governor and his staff about how to deliver scientifically accurate information in a form that world leaders could easily digest and use.The result was a unique partnership between scientists and the California Office of the Governor. The interaction led to the production by the scientists of the document: "Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity's Life Support System in the 21st Century, Information for Policy Makers."  At the same time, a multi-stakeholder collaborative organization, Sustainable Silicon Valley, independently organized the 2013 SSV WEST Summit and invited the scientists and the governor to release the statement there.

After its release on May 23, 2013, Governor Brown promptly started using the Consensus Statement and the information therein in policy discussions with political leaders in the White House, China, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Peru, United Kingdom, Malaysia, and other countries, as well as with U.S. governors and California business people and local officials. Sustainable Silicon Valley began using the the statement to engage business and technology leaders.

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