Point of Beginning

ASPRS Hosts Keynote Address

April 25, 2001
Renowned speaker advocates sustainable development.

Wednesday's keynote address was given by Peter H. Raven, a renowned leader in conservation and biodiversity. His address was preceeded by a play on the movie Space Odyssey 2001. As noted by ASPRS conference co-chairs David Kreighbaum and Kari Craun, not everything expected of the year 2001 has come to pass, but we have seen an abundance of progress.

A short slideshow illustrated this statement by presenting a Then and Now perspective of the industry. From room-sized computers and plotters to today's desktop and hand-held devices, the enhancement of GPS and advancement in software, all areas of field, office and air have improved greatly.

Though technology has improved things over time, our world has also taken some steps in a disconcerting manner. As an example, Raven illustrated that of the 7 to 20 million organisms in existence today, only one sixth or 1.6 million are classified. He further described the human population element affecting our world and our land.

In 1790, one billion people existed. Today there are more than 6.1 billion, the last billion in just the last 12 years. In the past 50 years, we have lost one quarter of the world's topsoil, one quarter of the land and have cut one third of our forests without replacing them. Materials and resources are becoming more and more scarce.

In regard to sustainable development, Raven quoted Dr. George Schaller, a prestigious scientist of mammals, who said, "We can't afford another century like this one."

The greatest task for the upcoming century, Raven says, is to build a sustainable future through the improvement of agriculture for land and ecological services for medicine, and the prevention of soil erosion for weather.

By "living off the ecological principle, not the ecological interest," we are diverting and destroying 45 percent terrestrial productivity. We must develoop new ways of thinking. Otherwise, Raven says, we would need six other planets to support the world at the rate America now exists. He is open for suggestions.