POINTS OF VIEW:
Eugene Linden, Author/Journalist:
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 Center:
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 going extinct.
Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute:
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
More than 130 million children who are under the age
of five will still remain malnourished by 2020.
Lester Brown, Earth Policy Institute:
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
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.”
Engelman, Population Action International
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 human condition.
Pedicabs 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 day.
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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