POINTS OF VIEW:|
I think that the Earth has been
sending us distress signals and the distress signals have to
do with the pressures of human population and the pressures of
the human economy on the ecosystems.
Tom Lovejoy, The Heinz
If current trends continue, by 2050
something on the order of a third or 40% of all species will
either have become extinct or will be on the threshold of
Peter Gleick, Pacific
More than a billion people don’t have
access to safe drinking water. 2.6 billion people, almost,
almost half the world’s population doesn’t have access to
adequate sanitation services.
Rajul Pandya-Lorch, International
Food Policy Research Institute:
More than 130
million children who are under the age of five will still
remain malnourished by 2020.
Lester Brown, Earth Policy
We are in effect, outgrowing the Earth.
We need another planet but there’s no other habitable planet
that we can go to.
Since the first of time, before our ancestors even thought of
time, first light reveals a treasure almost beyond imagination – the
elegance of diversity and the rich tapestry of the natural world.
Ours is also a world shaped by people, by those who are strongly
tied to the land and who draw from its bounty. They suffered during
hard times, only to be renewed by the birth of each new generation.
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This is also a place our ancestors never could have dreamed of
with mega-cities of glass and steel, the home to expanding
populations, powered by a global economy, and fueled by never ending
images of consumption. Even when the sun gives way to the glow of
neon, we've found a way to continue the frenzy – a way to freeze
time – until we reach the very edge of night. Yet all too often
first light brings a more sobering reality – perhaps all is not well
with the state of the planet.
“If I had to use one word to describe the
environmental state of the planet right now, I think I would say
precarious. It isn’t doomed. It isn’t certainly headed toward
disaster. But it’s in a very precarious situation right now.”
— Robert Engelman, Population Action
In many ways the most important challenge to the state of the
planet is recognizing the seriousness of the problems that lie
ahead. How could this have happened? How could our planet be faced
with seemingly unprecedented environmental challenges? Perhaps it's
best to start with numbers – numbers that have literally shaped the
in Dhaka, Bangladesh
From the time of our prehistoric ancestors, it took until about
1800 for our planet's population to reach one billion people. It
took another 125 years to reach 2 billion – less than 50 years to
reach 4 billion – and only 25 years more years to reach six billion
people. Incredibly, the world's population grew more in the past
fifty years than in the preceding 4 million years.Today our numbers
have surged to nearly six and half billion and our population is
increasing by nearly 80 million people each year – 220,000 each
In the end, all we want is for first light to still reveal the
rich tapestry of the natural world and, with each new day, a chance
for every child born into poverty to share the same dreams we in the
West so often take for granted.
What we need are the efforts of people everywhere – all those who
are willing to find ways to strike the right balance between what we
want and what nature can provide.
Though separated by distance and culture, for the six and a half
billion people who draw sustenance from the resources of the world,
there are common bonds. Each generation brings new ideas, new
attitudes, and new hope to renew these bonds.
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