Facebookers Last Hope for Environment?

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‘The only real hope is for a global citizens’ movement unlike anything ever seen on the face of the Earth’ — Erik Assadourian, Vital Signs

By Stephen Leahy

BROOKLIN, Canada, Sep 14 2007 (IPS)

Global trends indicate a looming environmental catastrophe, and engaging high school students around the world may be the only hope say experts.

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. Continue reading