Human activities are altering the atmosphere and oceans, transforming ecosystems, and changing the climate, over and above natural changes. Although people are global players in the Earth system, we don’t understand well enough how it works, why it changes, and how it will respond to our growing influence. Yet environmental changes are gathering speed, increasingly affecting ecosystems and human welfare.
Society needs to plan for unavoidable changes, and to assess what different policies might achieve. A step-change improvement in our ability to understand environmental changes, as part of the complex interactions between the Earth system and human action, is needed to inform decision-making by businesses, organisations and governments at all levels, from local planning to international negotiations.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) therefore created the programme Quantifying and Understanding the Earth System (QUEST). QUEST assimilated information and expertise from many programmes and institutions in and outside the UK. Its unique focus was on highly effective, interdisciplinary research, and it has delivered a substantial improvement in our quantitative understanding of global environmental change.
People that were involved in QUEST: