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Originally published April 15 2008

Future of Humanity at Risk from Climate Change, Warns United Nations

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The United Nations has issued a report warning that global climate change and other environmental destruction is rapidly pushing the planet's life support systems past the point of no return. The U.N. Environment Program referred to the fourth Global Environmental Outlook report as "the final wake-up call to the international community."

The report, prepared by a group of 338 experts, compared current levels of consumption and population with the resources available on the planet. According to the researchers' calculations, current resource demand requires 22 hectares (54 acres) per person. However, current population levels mean that only 2.02 hectares per person are available. This is estimated to fall to 1.63 hectares per person by 2050 as the population climbs to a projected stabilization point of 8 to 10 billion.

According to Achim Steiner, executive direction of the U.N. Environment Program, the problem is not population per se, but rather per capita impact on the planet.

"To force people to stop having children would be a simplistic answer," Steiner said. "The more realistic, ethical and practical issue is to accelerate human well-being and make more rational use of the resources we have."

The report says that the planet is increasingly stressed by factors such as global climate change. Indicators of this ecological stress are the spread of dead zones in oceans and the resurgence of certain diseases.

Steiner warned that the effects of climate change are "accelerating at a pace that goes beyond the scenarios and models we've been using." Certain regions of the planet are expected to reach ecological tipping points in the near future, meaning that the ecology will be so damaged that it can no longer recover. Steiner also warned that if climate change continues to dry out parts of Africa and melt Himalayan glaciers that supply water to vast portions of India and China, tipping points could be passed in those regions soon.

He called for the international community to put the same effort into combating other forms of environmental degradation as has been shown on climate change in recent years.

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