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8.30.02
Science and Health:
The Earth Debate
More on This Story:
Population and Development

The 1992 Earth Summit's Agenda 21 document declared: "The major cause of continued deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production, particularly in industrialized countries." It's a matter of reducing "The Global Footprint," that measure that shows today that if all the world lived like an average citizen of a developed country we'd need an additional 2.6 planets. How does one raise the standard of living without destroying the planet? That's the challenge facing those at the Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, and our panelists. Take a look at their raw materials below.

World Economy Facts from UN's Global Challenge: Global Opportunity, 2002

  • International trade flourished throughout the decade, with global exports growing at an average rate of 6.4 percent, reaching $6.3 trillion in 2000.
  • The debt burden of developing countries, grew from US$1.3 trillion in 1991 to US$2.2 trillion in 2000.
  • On average, developing countries that lowered tariffs sharply in the 1980s grew more quickly in the 1990s than those that did not.
  • The annual output of the world economy grew from $31 trillion in 1990 to $42 trillion in 2000, compared to just $6.2 trillion in 1950. This increase in economic activity created millions of new jobs and allowed people to consume more. For example, global telephone connections grew from 520 million in 1990 to 844 million in 1998 - an increase of 62 percent.


The Face of the World

World population in 1950:  2.5 billion
World population in 2000:  over 6 billion
Projected world population 2050, with substantially slowed growth:  9.3 billion
Projected world population 2050, without substantially slowed growth:  11.9 billion
Percentage of population living in urban areas, 1890:  14%
Percentage of population living in urban areas, 1990:  43%
Projected percentage of population living in urban areas, 2015:  53%

The Earth Debate Panel included:

  • Dr. Harvey Bale, Executive Director, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations, Switzerland

  • Ms. Nadine Gordimer, Author, 1991 Nobel Laureate for Literature, South Africa, Booker Prize Winner 1974, The Conservationist, Global Goodwill Ambassador, UN Development Programme

  • Ms. Naomi Klein, Author, NO LOGO

  • Dr. Justin Lin, Professor and Founding Director, China Centre for Economic Research, Peking University

  • Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, Author, The Skeptical Environmentalist, Associate Professor of Statistics in the Department of Political Science at the University of Aarhus, Denmark

  • Ms. Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, India, Director, Society for Environmental Communications; Publisher, DOWN TO EARTH MAGAZINE

  • Dr. Ricardo Navarro, Chairman, Friends of the Earth International; Director, CESTA/FoE El Salvador

  • Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute at Columbia University; Professor of Sustainable Development, Columbia University; Special Advisor to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan

  • Dr. Vandana Shiva. Founder and Director, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, New Delhi, India

  • Mr. Fred L Smith Jr, Founder and President, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington DC, USA

  • Dr. Florence Muringi Wambugu, Executive Director, A Harvest Biotechnology Foundation International, Kenya, South Africa, and USA

Invited Experts: Mr. Tom Burke CBE, Environmental Advisor to Rio Tinto plc and BP Amoco plc, Visiting Professor, Imperial College, London; Ms. Penny Fowler, Trade Policy Advisor, Oxfam International; Mr. William F Haddad, Advisor, Cipla Ltd, India, Chairman and CEO, Biogenerics, Inc, United States Research and Development Corp., USA, and MIR Pharmaceutical, Russia; Ms. Gail Johnson, Founder, Nkosi's Haven, South Africa; Ms. Yolanda Kakabadse, President, IUCN - The World Conservation Union, Switzerland; Mr. Martin Khor, Director, Third World Network, Malaysia; Ms. Frances Moore Lappé, Author, Diet for a Small Planet, Hope's Edge; Mr. Jonathan Lash, President, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, USA; Mr. Juan Mayr, Former Minister of the Environment, Colombia; Mr. Poul Nielson, Commissioner, European Commission Development & Humanitarian Aid; Dr. Robert T Watson, Director, Environment Department, The World Bank, Washington DC, USA


Sources: United Nations Sustainable Development, Agenda 21; World Bank Millennium Development Goals; United Nations Environment Program; The Convention on Biodiversity; The International Energy Agency


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