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PEOPLE AND THE PLANET. 1997; 6(4):4-5.The UN General Assembly Special Session held during June 1997 has failed to take forward the objectives set out at the Earth Summit in Rio, casting doubt on the global effort to create a sustainable future. This article presents a balance sheet set out by Don Hinrichsen in the wake of Rio+5. It outlines the progress made by the UN as well as the prevailing issues, which need to be acted upon immediately. It is noted that little progress has been made since the Summit; only the issues of population, forests, and oceans have been given attention, subsequently achieving a significant progress. However, the UN has failed in addressing the issues of poverty, high consumption, management of freshwater, and the continued loss and impoverishment of biological diversity. Little or lack of progress has been made since Rio in implementing recommendations tackling such problems. In the context of the issues regarding land degradation and climate change, assessing progress would be too early for these aspects.
Washington, D.C., Island Press, 1992. xxi, 291 p.The only person to serve on all 5 independent international commissions on global issues (e.g., the Brundtland Commission on Environment and Development) analyzes and compares scientific research to reveal the nature and magnitude of human excesses and their inherent dangers. He proposes recommended solutions from other international organizations. He urges us to achieve these solutions during a new era of enlightened change beginning with an Earth Charter at the June 1992 Conference on Environment and Development. This era depends on political will and the will of the people to accept and adopt long-term programs to protect the planet and to secure equitable access to its resources (i.e., a revolution in human consciousness). Sustainable development is based on needs, particularly those of the Earth's poor, and environmental limits. The rich tend to live in the industrialized countries of the North and account for 25% of the world's population, yet they consume 80% of commercial energy (i.e., burning of fossil fuels). In 1991, the world's worst polluter, the US, did not commit to stabilizing or reducing carbon dioxide output coming from consumption of fossil fuels. Since this consumption is almost entirely responsible for global pollution, the North must curb energy consumption. The author also petitions the North to help the South defeat poverty--the world's worst polluter, because the environment and world development are interconnected. He proposes a multilateral program comparable to the Marshall Plan implemented after World War II. The example of clearing tropical forests for timber exports and farming illustrates how poverty contributes to environmental pollution (e.g., it contributes to the build up of carbon dioxide, thereby threatening our atmosphere).