Earth on Edge of a Precipice -UN Report : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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WIRE: 11/07/2001 8:54 am ET

Earth on Edge of a Precipice -UN Report

By Jeremy Lovell LONDON (Reuters) - The human race is plundering Earth at an unsustainable rate, but the growing power of women over their own futures could save the planet from destruction, the United Nations said Wednesday.

"We are looking over a cliff here. It is a crisis of global proportions that needs to be addressed with some urgency," Alex Marshall, editor of the U.N. Population Fund's annual report for 2001 told a news conference.

The report, "Footprints and Milestones: Population and Environmental Change," said bluntly more people were using more resources more intensively than ever before.

"Putting this report together scared me stiff quite frankly," Marshall said.

But he added that a ray of hope lay in the fact that women were winning the war to control their fertility and had finally gained the ear of government and big business.

"One of the major changes is the increasing power of women's groups. Women are getting together as never before and are making changes," he said.

"Nearly 60 percent of women now have access to some sort of family planning -- even if you take China out of that you still have about 40 percent," he explained in an interview to Reuters.

His report painted a bleak picture of the planet.

The world's population, which has doubled to 6.1 billion in the past 40 years, is projected to surge 50 percent to 9.3 billion within another half century, with all the growth in developing countries whose resources are already overstretched.

"By 2050, 4.2 billion people (over 45 percent of the global total) will be living in countries that cannot meet the daily requirement of 13 gallons of water per person to meet basic needs," the report said.


It said water was being used and polluted at catastrophic rates.

At present 54 percent of available fresh water supplies is being used annually -- two-thirds for agriculture.

This figure is set to surge to 70 percent by 2025 due to population growth alone, and 90 percent if consumption in the developing countries reaches the levels in the developed world.

Water was being used at unsustainable rates in many places, with water tables under some Chinese, Latin American and South Asian cities dropping by more than three feet a year and water from seas and rivers being diverted with disastrous results.

The report said 1.1 billion people already did not have access to clean water, and in developing nations up to 95 percent of sewage and 70 percent of industrial waste was simply being dumped untreated into water courses.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic was threatening to swamp Africa and was spreading very rapidly in Asia with four million people already infected in India alone out of a world total of 35 million carriers of the deadly disease, Marshall said.

The report said 15.5 million more people would die from HIV/AIDS over the next five years in the 45 most affected countries than would otherwise be the case.

On climate change, it said vital rain forests were being destroyed at the highest rate in history, taking with them crucial sources of biodiversity and contributing to global warming, thereby boosting already rising sea levels.

"We seem to be engaged in some vast experiment of which nobody knows the outcome," Marshall told the news conference, adding that he hoped his report would set the agenda for the second Earth Summit in Johannesburg next September.

Copyright 2001 Reuters News Service

-- Martin Thompson (, November 07, 2001


We seem to be engaged in some vast experiment of which nobody knows the outcome," Marshall told the news conference.

I wouldn't say that nobody knows. There are plenty of people with common sense that know. However it goes something like this: disasters occurring with larger and more increasing frequency as time goes on, but the worse part is that the plundering of the environment is non-reversable as long as our numbers continue to grow and multiply.

Here is the saddest truth. There are too many groups out there that promote propagation because it swells there numbers to increase the power of the group. All the way from Mormons to Presidents that pander to the latin American populations for votes, ANYTHING to add more voices to there swelling herds. Even Hitler had his birth promotion programs that were subsidized. However, as intelligent as we "think" we are, we can't master the environment or subjugate it into extinction without harming ourselves.

I can't believe the hypocrisy I read when some scholar whines about losing obscure Indian dialects as they die out when the emphasis should be on preserving our environment before we sterilize it with our mindless expansion due to "family values" and other moronic nonsense. "What about the children", bleated by the breeding cows will forever echo through my pain.

-- Guy Daley (, November 07, 2001.

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