10 items of bad news re
the environment, since 1994
1 Species of animals and plants made extinct: estimated at around 100 per day.
10-100 million species exist, 1.5 million have been
named. Many will be destroyed before being named. This is the 6th
known mass extinction, the only one caused by humankind. Humanity already
exceeds (by 20 percent) the planet's capacity to sustain its consumption of
renewable (biological) resources - see www.panda.org/downloads/general/LPR2002Summary.pdf
and woodlands: lost at rate of about 14 million hectares per year
Trees in an area the size of a soccer pitch
are cut down or burnt somewhere every 2 seconds.
loss: approx 25 billion tonnes a year
By water and wind erosion after tree-cutting,
urbanisation, overgrazing and salination.
shortage, becoming acute in the Middle East and Africa
The Nile is used by 10 countries, all of
whose populations are increasing fast. Already almost none of the Nile's water
gets to the sea.
At least 800,000 people have
protein/calorie malnutrition and more than 40 million have HIV or AIDS. Food shortages increase as environments
million motor vehicles, rising by about 12 million a year
28 million in the UK alone, and similarly
rising by about 2 % per year. Can't go on like that!
World oil usage has increased to 75 million
barrels a day, will peak in 2020 as reserves run out, green sources cannot
substitute unless per-person use reduces (and number of persons stabilises)
At least 70,000 different chemicals enter
the environment through human activity, many of them being non-biodegradeable.
They threaten many life-support systems.
genocide and other violence
These have always been part-caused by land
hunger, but increasingly now by resource shortages. We have already had two
'petroleum wars' in the Gulf since 1990, water wars are likely to follow. And
nothing is more destructive than warfare to the natural world and environment.
10 Population increase
800 million more humans since 1994, now totalling 6400 million and
don't they ALL deserve a decent life, with reasonable affluence? Yet the planet is finite...
Though clearly not the only cause of all the
above problems, increase in human numbers is the greatest single multiplier of them. To quote Jonathan Porritt, writing
for today's event: "our continuing failure to address that population
challenge - wisely, compassionately and democratically - borders on the criminal".