The United Nations crying that the world is facing an environmental crisis that threatens the survival of humanity may sound like a familiar refrain.
Well, that's because it is.
It was 20 years ago that the Environment Program issued its first report, warning of worsening environmental problems like climate change, the depletion of the ozone layer, the extinction of species and the degradation of clean air and water.
It issued its latest report, penned by 390 scientists and reviewed by 1,000 others, yesterday, and its message was the same -- only with a new note of urgency. It released its report, Global Environment Outlook: Environment for Development (GEO-4) in New York.
The fact that we are in the year 2007, with all the knowledge that we have and with all the capacity to do things differently -- to present to the world at this point a report that essentially says that our response has been woefully inadequate is a very sobering realization, said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP).
He noted progress: Over the past 20 years, the international community has cut, by 95 per cent, the production of ozone-layer damaging chemicals; created a greenhouse gas emission reduction treaty along with innovative carbon trading and carbon offset markets; supported a rise in terrestrial protected areas to cover roughly 12 per cent of the Earth and devised numerous important instruments covering issues from biodiversity and desertification to the trade in hazardous wastes and living modified organisms.
But he dwelled on several thorny issues of worldwide importance: "the decline of fish stocks; loss of fertile land through degradation; unsustainable pressure on resources; dwindling amount of fresh water; and risk that environmental damage 'could pass unknown points of no return.' "
To read the report, visit UNEP.
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