Preparing to Monitor for Sustainable Use of the Planet
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Monitoring humankind's activities is common, for example, intensive care patients in hospitals, pharmaceuticals, food supplies, industrial processes, and economic health. Basically, monitoring is used to confirm that previously established quality control conditions are being met. If they are not, remedial measures are taken promptly. Monitoring for sustainable use of the planet will be orders of magnitude more complex than the systems just mentioned, but the principle remains the same - a feedback loop providing information about the system of concern is essential to verify that the system is functioning within acceptable limits. The absence of a sound monitoring system significantly increases the probability of unpleasant surprises. Since humankind must live sustainably for at least several generations to increase confidence that its practices are sustainable, the development time for the monitoring system will be extensive. Choosing the attributes to be monitored will be challenging, and the synthesis and integration of such diverse information will require much skill, especially in communication. However, the computer age makes coping with vast amounts of diverse information possible for the first time in human history. Paying attention to seemingly inconsequential components of sustainability, such as individual commitment, has merit.