Friday, 26 October 2007

Sick planet: the Geo-4 report

Recently, the United Nations released its major Global Environmental Outlook report.

As this BBC News article explains,

Geo-4 covers the whole range of environmental issues, and the links between them.

In these climate-obsessed times, it is often forgotten that issues like forestry, fresh water supplies, agriculture, biodiversity, and the spread of desert land all connect to each other and to climate change.

In the language of James Lovelock's Gaia theory, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that have punctuated 2007 allowed us to take the planet's temperature; Geo-4 shows us what is going on in the blood supply, the lymph system, the intestines and the immune defences.

Third, it explores the links between social trends and environmental decline in a way that is not often done. Which other body, for example, asks whether the divergence we are seeing in the wealth of the richest and the poorest is good or bad for the environment?

This is a major report that should be brought to the attention of the public. Scientific evidence of our planet's declining state is not some alarmist liberal conspiracy, but a fact-supported plea for action. Often the ones who could take action most easily and effectively are some of the world's most affluent, and thus powerful, people, organizations, and nations, not to mention the big polluters and those who value short-term economic gain over long-term environmental livelihood (which greatly affects economic well-being too, not to mention mere human lives). Let's not value money over the planet that sustains — barely, at this point — our actions.

I hope to talk soon about the GEO report, as I skim it for eco-friendly living ideas (I've decided to move it from Mondays to Fridays). In the environmental complexities of today's world, it's good to look at the big picture.

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