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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.
In: Constraints on development: focus on China and India, [compiled by] Nippon Foundation [and] Asian Population and Development Association. [Tokyo, Japan], Asian Population and Development Association, 1999 Mar. 71-85. (Population and Development Series No. 23)This article discusses water resources in China, comparisons with India, and deficits. The character of development is likely to be changed by growing limits on resources. Both India and China share similar water issues and have similar water consumption. China is tied with Canada as the third-most water-abundant country, after Brazil and Russia. India ranks 7th after Indonesia and the US. Both India and China have regions of scarcity. Over 75% of water is used for irrigation in both countries. Irrigation in China is expected to dominate water use through 2030, when industrial use will equal agricultural use and then stabilize. Agricultural water use is expected to increase indefinitely. In 1997, the Yellow River stopped flowing for 222 days due to dry weather. Constant deficits are due to upstream and downstream uses. About 122 projects divert water from the Huang He River in 85 counties and municipalities. By 1990, upstream uses affected downstream supplies. The State Council set nonbinding quotas on water allocation. Downstream uses support high value crops or off-farm uses, while upstream uses support low value crops with subsidized water pricing. About 66% of China's 600 cities are short of water. The largest cities are the most affected. The primary causes are excessive demand, slow development of water supply projects, and pollution. Water shortages affect about 2% of total output. China's cities are supplementing supplies by diverting water away from farmers. Lowering of the water table increases pumping costs. It is still undetermined as to whether China will adapt to avoid tragedy or postpone tragedy.
PEOPLE AND THE PLANET. 1993; 2(2):35-6.We continue to expand a water supply that has ecological and economical limits. Drip irrigation techniques, rainwater harvesting, and use of water=saving plumbing fixtures can help solve our water shortage problem. The core of the predicament is that society is no longer connected to water's life=giving qualities. Modern society does not respect the natural river, the complexity of a wetland, and the intricate web of life. It considers water to be a resource only to control for human consumption. Humans do not realize that they should preserve and protect water. We need guidelines to force us to act appropriately when we must make complex decisions about natural ecosystems whose workings evade us. The ultimate goal of this water ethic should be protection of water ecosystems. Adoption of this integrated, holistic ethic would call for the use of less water when possible and to share what we have. This ethic would be part of a sustainable development code which blends economic goals with ecological criteria. The water ethic would have indicators monitoring the breakdown of ecosystems, therefore allowing us to make corrections to restore ecosystems to health. We see some of this now as Florida tries to restore the Everglades damaged by unsustainable development. We should watch to see whether Botswana will continue to keep economic development from the Okavango Delta. Governments, the World Bank, and other lending institutions should make investment decisions based on ecological sustainability. The water ethic must include a social and political commitment to meet the basic needs of the poor. International relations must also consider equity and fairness when it comes to developing water-sharing terms and treaties. Individuals need to reduce their water consumption and consumption of goods whose manufacture requires water use resulting in water pollution. Population growth needs to slow down considerably to secure out water future.
WORLD WATCH. 1993 Jul-Aug; 6(4):19-26.Usual trends in the world have changed direction in the 1990s. We do not yet fully know the consequences of these altered trends. As population continues to grow, basic agricultural and industrial production falls (e.g., 1%/year decline in grain production and 0.6%/year decline in oil production). Moreover, world economic growth has fallen .8% annually in the early 1990s. It is feared that these shifts are not short term as were the instabilities generated during the 1973 increase in oil prices. The shifts in the 1990s are not limited to several national political leaders (e.g., OPEC), but are a result of the collision between swelling human numbers and their needs and the limitations of the earth's natural systems on the other. These limitations include the capacity of seas to produce seafood, of grasslands to yield mutton and beef, of the hydrological cycle to generate fresh water, of crops to use fertilizer, of the atmosphere to absorb carbon dioxide and chlorofluorocarbons, and of people to inhale polluted air, and of forests to resist acid rain. These constraints are forcing the realization that each nation must reduce consumption of the earth's natural resources and implement a population policy. The challenge is for social institutions to quickly check and stabilize population growth without infringing in human rights.