Global trends indicate a looming environmental catastrophe, and engaging high school students around the world may be the only hope.
Sept 14’07 (IPS)
Governments, the corporate sector and media continue to champion industrial and economic growth at the cost of escalating impacts on the environment, concludes the latest report from the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, “Vital Signs 2007-2008“.
For a number of years, the “Vital Signs” report has tracked 44 trends that are shaping the future, and they document a record level of industrial growth, says Erik Assadourian, Vital Signs project director.
“‘Vital Signs’ also documents the escalating impacts of such growth on the environment,” Assadourian told IPS in an interview from Barcelona.
The scale of the environmental crisis, in which catastrophic climate change is just one of many, is undermining the ecosystems that support life on Earth.
“Climate change and other environmental problems are symptoms of the root problem, which is the obsession with consumerism,” he said.
Vital Signs reports that in 2005, more wood was removed from forests than in any previous year. Fossil fuel usage dumped 7.6 billion tonnes of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Meat production hit a record 276 million tonnes (43 kilogrammes per person) in 2006. Rising meat consumption is driving rising soybean demand to feed cattle, which in turn is a driver of deforestation as tropical forests are turned into soy fields.
And on it goes: global seafood consumption breaks records, steel and aluminium production too. None of this is sustainable — another three or four or five planets would be needed to maintain these levels of production and consumption.
The consumption obsession is truly more of an addiction. Despite a whopping 45 billion dollars in weather-related damages globally, many governments are no longer interested in preventing climate change, but have started to invest billions of dollars to adapt to climate change, Assadourian said.
“Canada is spending 3 billion dollars to build eight new patrol boats to reinforce its claim over Arctic waterways. Denmark and Russia are starting to vie for control over the Lomonosov Ridge, where new sources of oil and natural gas could be accessed if the Arctic Circle becomes ice free,” he said.The only real hope is for a global citizens’ movement unlike anything ever seen on the face of the Earth. Millions of ordinary people will have to mobilise to force governments and industry down the path of sustainability, he argued.
For complete article see Can Networking Teenagers Save the World?