[  ]
Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

Diagnosis of a Stressed-Out Planet



Climate change is a central concern here at Levees Not War—it keeps us up late at night. The reasons are obvious: As we’ve said before, even Category 5–strength flood protection is useless if global warming raises sea levels by 10 or 20 feet or more, as scientists have warned may happen in this century. (See ‘Swiftly Melting Planet 2007,’ several posts down.) The trend can be slowed, and eventually reversed, by massive coordinated—and sustained—effort.

Some alarming trends—along with proof that human efforts can make a positive difference—can be seen in the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-4) released last week by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

UNEP’s executive director, Achim Steiner, said in a press conference on Thursday, “[W]e are coming literally to the brink where things will happen that either we cannot any longer control or that trying to reverse has both economic, social and environmental challenges that are extremely difficult to cope with. . . . The world is becoming more vulnerable almost daily . . .”

Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, added, “What the Outlook says in essence is that every part of the earth’s system [is] under unique stress right now. Whether it’s a terrestrial habitat, water, climate, air—we have multiple stressors and worldwide problems . . .”

The New York Times reported on Monday, Oct. 29, that “population growth combined with unsustainable consumption has resulted in an increasingly stressed planet where natural disasters and environmental degradation endanger people, plants and animal species.” (“U.N. Warns of Rapid Decay of Environment.”)

Among the Outlook’s salient points—both scary and encouraging:

LNW_UN.logoJeffrey Sachs said on Thursday:

I think it’s an extremely important report. I hope it’s read in the White House, in Downing Street, and in other places of leadership in the world because actually this is the main true geopolitics of our age. . . . [S]ustainable development is at the very center of the true geopolitics of the world, whether we’re going to have peace, whether we’re going to have viable economies, whether we’re going to be able to get on top of critical problems like climate change.


Top image courtesy of Salon.com.

Tags: , , , , ,

Print This Post Print This Post

Leave a Reply