October 30, 2007

Global environmental outlook: not good

Filed under: Environment — 4fooey @ 2:36 pm

There was a report out by the UN last week regarding the outlook for the global environment, and it wasn’t good – so should we be worried or just go back to our daily business? Strikes me that if the report was “huge asteroid to hit earth and wipe-out civilization” then people might find this issue a little more urgent, but if you believe all the reports over the past few months, this is just the likely impact we are having on the planet. So yes, you should be very afraid. The UN report, codenamed Geo-4 (cute) is discussed here: Humans failing the sustainability audit.

The report has some gloomy conclusions, and summarised in the BBC article: “From over-fishing and pollution in the oceans to climate-changing emissions in the atmosphere, it concludes that pretty much everything is going downhill… More greenhouse gases, more widespread pollution, declining availability of fresh water, deforestation, degradation of farmland, ocean acidification – it is hard to come up with a more comprehensive and, frankly, a more depressing list.”But of course we’ve heard all this before – for as long as I can remember (since the early 1970s), various people have been warning of these dangers. It’s just in the past year or so, climate change and the continuing degradation of the planet have hardly been out of the news (e.g. Al Gore’s film ‘an inconvenient truth’ and the Stern report released in the UK).

There is now a groundswell of evidence, and popular opinion is finally waking up to this issue. Urgent action is now needed to halt the decline in the environment – and the UN and governements need to take the lead. The measures required to solve these problems will be very unpopular and will have consequences of their own, but very dramatic solutions are now needed. I tend to think we will solve these problems, through science and technical innovation, but we need a global effort, as well as individuals changing their habits – contemplating failure in this case is a very chilling prospect.


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