Thursday, October 25, 2007
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a comprehensive report on the current state of the global environment. Climate change, food and water shortage and a decline in biodiversity threaten humanity’s survival, so urgent action is necessary, the report warns.
UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4) report involved the work of about 390 experts in various fields from around the world.
|Selected key figures and facts from the reportClimate changeThe global average temperature has risen 0.7 °C since 1906 and will rise a further 1.8 °C at best by the end of this century.Some scientists believe a 2°C temperature rise would cause major and irreversible damage.Meanwhile, average temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as elsewhere.Rising sealevels threaten the 60 percent of the population living within 100 kilometres of coastal lines.Water and foodIncreasing irrigation demands will eventually cause 1 of every 10 major rivers to dry up.Population growth, over-consumption and a continued shift from cereals to meat will raise food demand to a level 2.5 – 3.5 times higher than at present.The slackening expansion of cropland stands in contrast with the fact that by 2030, developing countries will need 120 million extra hectares to feed themselves.BiodiversitySpecies are becoming extinct a hundred times faster than the rate shown in the fossil record.|
While the GEO-4 report salutes some improvements, for example the increased public awareness of environmental issues and political interest, it also warns that “There are no major issues… for which the foreseeable trends are favourable.” Although the report sets out a gloomy scenario, its main aim is to call for action.