The United Nations Environment Programme just released its fourth Global Environmental Outlook. This 572-page report details a complete range of environmental issues and the linkages between these issues and overall environmental health, economic development and social implications. It’s a report with sustainable development at the core of scientific inquiry.
“Few global issues are more important than the environment and climate change. Since taking office, I have consistently emphasized the dangers of global warming, environmental degradation, the loss of biodiversity and the potential for conflict growing out of competition over dwindling natural resources such as water â€“ the topics which are analysed in the GEO-4 report. Dealing with these issues is the great moral, economic and social imperative of our time.” — Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
In this report, thousands of collaborating scientists, put the issue of climate change and human action that is affecting our climate to rest. Instead the focus is on how the climate change challenge should be addressed. The report also addresses the social implications of environmental decline, asking some tough questions such as whether the increasing divergence between rich and poor is bad for the environment.
The grim assessment relates to continued environmental decline since the first Global Environmental Outlook report 20 years ago. There’s more greenhouse gases, more widespread pollution, declining fresh water, deforestation, less farmland, overfishing, ocean acidification, etc.
It’s easy to just become depressed about our current path of unsustainable development — “meeting our own immediate needs, but compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” A concerted international effort is needed to change this course.