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October 25, 2007

UN: "Humanity's Very Survival" At Risk Environment

Here's another one of those stories that deserves to be front page news all over the world, but it will probably disappear without much of a trace. No exciting visuals for the teevee. Times (UK):

The speed at which mankind has used the Earth's resources over the past 20 years has put "humanity's very survival" at risk, a study involving 1,400 scientists has concluded.

The environmental audit, for the United Nations, found that each person in the world now requires a third more land to supply his or her needs than the Earth can supply.

Thirty per cent of amphibians, 23 per cent of mammals and 12 per cent of birds are under threat of extinction, while one in ten of the world's major rivers runs dry every year before it reaches the sea.

The bleak verdict on the environment was issued as an "urgent call for action" by the United Nations Environment Programme, which said that the "point of no return" was fast approaching.

The report was drafted and researched by almost 400 scientists, all experts in their fields, whose findings were subjected to review by another 1,000 of their peers. [...]

The report assessed the impact on the environment since 1987.

Climate change was identified as one of the most pressing problems but the condition of fresh water supplies, agricultural land and biodiversity were considered to be of equal concern.

The Earth audit

- The world's population has grown by 34% to 6.7 billion in 20 years [...]

- 73,000km2 of forest is lost across the world each year – 3.5 times the size of Wales [...]

- Three million [people] die [annually] of water-related diseases

- Ten million children under 10 die [...]

- 60 per cent of the world's major rivers have been dammed or diverted

- Populations of freshwater fish have declined by 50 per cent in 20 years

- More than half of all cities exceed WHO pollution guidelines [Emphasis added]

One of the things that works against us humans is our short life span. 20 years seems like a long time to us, but it's nothing, the merest blink of an eye. And in that tiny blink of an eye, world population has increased by 1.7 billion people and freshwater fish populations have been cut in half. In 20 years. The scale and speed of what's happening defies understanding, but somehow we need to envision it. Imagine a time-lapse film of the world at large. Glaciers melting, rivers drying up, forests and topsoil disappearing, species dying off, all before your eyes, at breathtaking speed. No pause button, no rewind.

Posted by Jonathan at October 25, 2007 11:14 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb


We're living the future predicted by Soylent Green and THX 1138. Whaddya think?

This latest report mirrors the 1995 'warning to humanity' issued by the Royal Society. In a sense, this really is old news--only the details change.

The only real question is whether we will actually do anything, or just take note of our collapse. Will Vonnegut be proven right--that we will destory ourselves because we're too cheap? I think the key is how quickly those in the US either abandon the market cult, or how quickly the US is made irrelevant by looming financial and other crises.

Posted by: Derek at October 26, 2007 11:04 AM

Vonnegut nailed it.

Get some popcorn and soda pop, sit back and enjoy the show. You are permitted to shed a tear for your kids and grandkids, of course.

Posted by: edward Beardsley at October 26, 2007 02:53 PM