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Archive for October 26th, 2007

GEO-4: Another ‘Optimistic’ Report

Posted by feww on October 26, 2007

UNEP REPORT: Sixth Major Extinction Is Under Way

The fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4), a 570-page report, was released by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) October 25, 2007.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: “The systematic destruction of the Earth’s natural and nature-based resources has reached a point where the economic viability of economies is being challenged — and where the bill we hand on to our children may prove impossible to pay…”

“A sixth major extinction is under way, this time caused by human behaviour,” report says. Unfortunately, like all other UN reports, which are distorted by politics and corporate agendas, the timeline for this report is too OPTIMISTIC!

The “experts” are like the “blind elders” who were sent to examine the giant elephant that was about to enter the town; they could only report what they “felt” as each one of them touched a separate part of the elephant’s anatomy, “it’s rather like a rope,” “nay a curved stick,” “a fan,” “a tree-trunk,” “a wall …” because none of them could actually “see” the whole elephant.

Some Key Points from GEO-4

  • Concentrations of the greenhouse gas C02 are roughly a third higher now than they were 20 years ago.
  • In 1987, around 15 per cent of global fish stocks were classed as collapsed. GEO-4 says this has roughly doubled to 30 per cent.
  • 20 years ago around a fifth of fish stocks were deemed over-exploited this has now risen to about 40 per cent.
  • More than one billion people in Asia are now exposed to out door air pollution levels above World Health Organization guidelines linked to the premature death of about 500,000 people a year.
  • Globally more than two million people may be dying prematurely as a result of out door and in door air pollution.
  • Land use intensity, with links to land degradation, soil erosion, water scarcity, nutrient depletion and pollution, has increased. In 1987, a hectare of cropland yielded 1.8 tonnes. Now the figure is 2.5 tonnes.
  • In Latin America and the Caribbean, desertification—caused by deforestation, over grazing and inadequate irrigation—affects a quarter of the region.
  • Ecuador’s Antisan glacier retreated eight times faster than in the 1990s than in earlier decades and Bolivia’s Chacaltava glacier has lost over half its entire area since 1990.
  • Energy consumption per head in Canada and the United States has grown by 18 per cent since 1987.
  • Available freshwater resources are declining; by 2025, close to two billion people are likely to live with ‘absolute’ water scarcity.
  • In West Asia, freshwater availability per person per year has fallen from 1,700 cubic metres in the 1980s to around 907 cubic metres—it is expected to decline to 420 cubic metres by 2050.
  • Populations of freshwater vertebrates have declined on average by nearly 50 per cent since 1987 as compared with an around 30 per cent decline for terrestrial and marine species.
  • About 40 per cent of big estuaries in the United States including those that link to the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay suffer severe eutrophication—which can lead to deoxygenated ‘dead zones’—because of nitrogen enrichment. Farm fertilizers account for about two thirds of the nitrogen entering the Gulf via the Mississippi.
  • In the Caribbean, over 60 per cent of coral reefs are threatened by sediments, pollution and over-fishing.
  • Exploitation of West Africa’s fish by European Union, Russian and Asian fleets increased six-fold from the 1960s to the 1990s with African countries receiving only 7.5 per cent of the processed value via license fees.
  • Canada has three of the top ten most sprawling urban areas—Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. Sprawl from coastal cities in the United States can stretch up to 80km inland.
  • War and conflict has raised the number of refugees and internally displaced people in West Asia to about four million.
  • Between 2000 and 2003, 13 out of 16 outbreaks of Ebola in Gabon and the Republic of Congo resulted from the handling of gorilla and chimpanzee carcasses. Read report …

Related links:

Earth’s Terminal Energy – ETE
Reality Check: Is a Future Possible?
Only Zero Emissions Would Avert Dangerous Warming

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