Environment Page
Global Warming

This is an article taken from Rueters following a long study conducted by the UN into the state of our global environment. It couldn't be clearer in what it is saying, but the sort of reason it represents struggles for a voice amidst the thousand or so advertisements we see each day telling us that consumption is happiness. This should be what our news leads with each night, instead we have star gossip, interesting/mass deaths and irrelevant local political intrigue.

Time is running out for the environment, UN says

NAIROBI - It is now too late to halt global warming and time is fast running out to prevent other environmental catastrophes, the U.N.'s environment agency said in a major report yesterday.

Global Environment Outlook 2000 paints a devastating picture of the Earth's health on the eve of the new millennium, and points to new threats, such as increased levels of nitrogen in the water supply, which the world has not yet started to tackle.

"The gains made by better management and technology are still being outpaced by the environmental impacts of population and economic growth. We are on an unsustainable course," Klaus Toepfer, head of the United Nations Environment Programme said at the African launch of the report in Nairobi.

The report says emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming have quadrupled since the 1950s, and "binding" targets to reduce emissions agreed by governments at last year's Kyoto summit may not be met.

The rate at which humans are destroying the environment is accelerating - often the result of excessive consumption by the rich and to the detriment of the poor.

About 20 percent of the world's population already lacks access to safe drinking water and 50 percent have no access to a sanitation system. This situation will get worse as the world's population - set to reach six billion next month - will increase by 50 percent in the next 50 years.

Eighty percent of the world's original forest cover has been cleared or degraded, and logging and mining projects threaten 39 percent of what forest remains.

A quarter of mammal species are at risk of total extinction, while more than half the world's coral reefs are threatened by human activity.

There were 850 contributors to the report, which took two and a half years to compile and also highlights some lesser known environmental problems.


Disasters such as hurricanes and forest fires are increasing in frequency and severity and have killed some three million people in the last three decades. Armed conflicts and unprecedented refugee flows are causing greater damage to the environment than ever before.

There is also mounting evidence that humans are seriously destabilising the global nitrogen balance. Huge amounts of nitrogen are being deposited on land and in water through intensive agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels.

Eventually, this could make freshwater supplies unfit for human consumption, the report says.

"The full extent of the damage is only now becoming apparent as we begin to piece together a comprehensive overview of the extremely complex, interconnected web that is our life support system," said Toepfer, a former German environment minister.

Much of the damage is irreparable, but through a huge mobilisation of resources and political will, much can still be done to prevent further destruction, the report says.

A long-term target of a 90 percent reduction in the consumption of raw materials in industrialised countries may seem far-fetched, but without it hundreds of millions in future generations will be condemned to a life of suffering, it concludes.

"We can no longer be complacent and assume that the environment can look after itself," Toepfer said. "We have a huge task ahead to ensure a more sustainable future for the planet and human society."

Story by Rosalind Russell


Cameron Green
Last Updated - Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:04:32 -0600