One With the Earth

Universal Symbol for Environmental Awareness

How Others View the State of the Planet

Global Warming

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[excerpt] SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 8, 2002) - The northernmost reaches of the Earth are warming, reducing the sea ice across the Arctic Ocean, melting the ice sheet in Greenland and spreading shrubs into the Alaskan tundra, scientists said Saturday.

 

Taken individually, the changes only suggest the region's climate is undergoing a warming trend. Together, they provide dramatic evidence the change is real, a panel of scientists said during at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

See a 10 minute video on Global Warming

click on Multi-Media Presantation in upper left

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Homo sapiens are gutting the earth of biodiversity

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By John Gray, New Statesman Professor of European thought at the London School of Economics and the author of STRAW DOGS: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals.

 

 [excerpt] According to Edward O Wilson, the greatest living Darwinian thinker, the earth is entering a new evolutionary era. We are on the brink of a great extinction the like of which has not been seen since the end of the Mesozoic Era, 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs disappeared. Species are vanishing at a rate of a hundred to a thousand times faster than they did before the arrival of humans. On present trends, our children will be practically alone in the world. As Wilson has put it, humanity is leaving the Cenozoic, the age of mammals, and entering the Eremozoic - the era of solitude.

 

The last mass extinction has not yet been fully explained. Many scientists believe it to have been the result of meteorites whose impact suddenly altered the global climate, but no-one can be sure. In contrast, the cause of the present mass extinction is not in doubt: human expansion. Homo sapiens are gutting the earth of biodiversity.

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State of the Planet From National Geographic
Ten years ago representatives from more than 178 nations convened in Rio de Janeiro to devise a plan to protect the world’s resources. Now in a follow-up in Johannesburg, world leaders, scientists, and activists are sizing up what, if anything, has changed. National Geographic asked seven scientists to weigh in on the condition of the planet. They pointed out that people have become more aware of Earth’s health, but there has been no real slow-down in habitat destruction and the use of fossil fuels that contribute to global warming. Each year in the United States alone plowing causes two billion tons of topsoil to erode into rivers and flow into the Gulf of Mexico. And greenhouse gases warm the oceans and wreak havoc on marine ecosystems, doing further harm to distant oceans as waters move and mix globally. If that isn’t bad enough, every day we are exposed to synthetic chemicals that interfere with development and reproduction in wildlife and humans.

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BBC Report State of the Planet

The BBC has compiled what could be the most comprehensive review of the environmental state of the planet.


It's easy to navigate, broken up into short summaries, has lots of pictures, stats, links and quotes. Bookmark this LINK and explore.


[excerpt from overview]

The overcrowded ark By Alex Kirby BBC News Online

Humanity's choices are getting harder and fewer. The Earth's population has doubled since 1950 and consumption has risen even faster. There has to be a reckoning. For many people, it is here already. The few first-class passengers on the planet that is our Noah’s Ark are safe for now on the upper deck. It’s a very different story down below. How much longer can the rich keep their feet dry?


Oil consumption has increased seven-fold in the last 50 years and meat production, marine fish catches and carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning have all at least quadrupled. And freshwater use increased six-fold last century.


According to one recent study, the human race is consuming the Earth's resources at a rate that is 20% faster than it can replenish itself, with the result that we would need 1.2 Earths to sustain this lifestyle. The gap between rich and poor is becoming wider and more visible. Nearly 30% of the world's population suffers some form of malnutrition and almost two thirds of humanity lives on less than $2 a day. And sustainable development is critical for the world's poorest.


The family that has to level a forest to grow its food and find the fuel to cook it does not have the choice of living sustainably. The poorest have least power to protect themselves from the effects of global environmental problems such as climate change. And, with the richest 1% of the world's population consuming as much as its poorest 44%, we would have to use massively more resources if the poor were to live as the rich world does.


What is sustainable development?

In principle, sustainable development means not using up resources faster than the Earth can replenish them - "treating the Earth as if we intended to stay". FACTS Half world's rivers seriously depleted and polluted More than quarter of sea fish stocks depleted About 15% of land degraded by human activities Sea level set to rise for decades even in best-case scenario.


In practice, everything from biotechnology and nuclear power to vegetarianism and rail travel is promoted in the name of sustainable development - to the point where some campaigners say the term has become meaningless. The optimists say disaster will never strike, as development knows no limits. They argue that human ingenuity will always find a way. Society will find new raw materials, develop cleaner technologies and manage water scarcity so resource depletion and pollution cease to be problems. One argument runs that a better world needs us all to spend and consume more to generate wealth for all - and that industrialisation slows population growth and raises environmental standards. But if "development" means every person on the planet aspiring to own a car, fly half way round the world on holiday and get a new mobile phone every year, we may as well forget it, the sceptics say. We don't have enough Earths for this sort of consumer capitalism.


More than 30,000 under-fives - the equivalent of about 10 World Trade Center attacks - die every day from hunger or from easily preventable diseases. Our record for managing to think ahead is poor. Professor James Lovelock has said humans are as qualified to be stewards of the Earth as goats are to be gardeners.


It would take 1.2 Earths to regenerate resources at the rate we're using them. Humans started to exceed nature's ability to regenerate from the mid-1980s onwards. In 1961 humans were using 70% of the capacity of the global biosphere. By 1999, that had risen to 120%.

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