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  1. 1

    Rio + 5: picking up the pieces.

    Hinrichsen D

    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.
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  2. 2

    Why immigration reduction is necessary to protect the environment. U.S. population growth: primary cause of environmental degradation.

    Carrying Capacity Network

    [Washington, D.C.], Carrying Capacity Network, [1997]. 15, [1] p.

    This article identifies population growth and immigration as the primary cause of environmental degradation in the US. The US has ample natural resources, but population growth forces a shift of open land to residential, industrial, and infrastructure use and results in increased consumption and pollution. About 94% of old-growth forests have been cut down. 99% of tall grass prairie is gone. Only 103 million of the original 221 million acres of wetlands remain. Coastal areas are experiencing the stress of population density and degradation from run-off. Over 2 million acres of prime cropland are lost to erosion, salinization, and waterlogging. The US has surpassed its carrying capacity. Reducing consumption is necessary, but so is reduced population growth. Population is expected to double over the next 60 years. Arable land is expected to be reduced by over 50% (250 million acres). Domestic food prices will increase due to the loss of farmland per person. Water consumption must decline by 50% in accordance with population growth and resources. Groundwater that supplies 31% of agricultural use is being depleted 25% faster than replenishment. An overview is provided of loss of biodiversity, social effects, and energy deficits. If population had stabilized at 1940s levels of 135 million, oil imports would not be necessary. Immigrants have a higher fertility rate and contribute 700,000 or more births yearly. A moratorium on immigration would give billions of dollars in relief. 11 fallacies are identified that are used to thwart immigration reduction and population stabilization efforts.
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  3. 3

    Water scarcity: a fundamental crisis for Jordan.

    Jaber JO; Probert SD; Badr O

    APPLIED ENERGY. 1997; 57(2-3):103-27.

    This article defines the problems of the Fertile Crescent region, and discusses the nature and extent of water resources and their management in Jordan. Jordan was once covered with naturally occurring forests and now has few natural freshwater supplies. Local rainfall is low, irregular, and unevenly distributed over the country. About 80% of Jordan is desert, which receives rainfall of under 50 mm annually. Rainfall is highest over the highlands. Water is channeled, dammed, or allowed to flood low lying areas. The remainder enters underground aquifers. Climate affects evaporation losses of water. The average evaporation rate amounts to about 94% of the average precipitation rate, which leads to increased water salinity in aquifers and reservoirs. Jordan obtains most of its supplies from rainfall in the winter. Jordan exploits surface water resources and renewable and nonrenewable groundwater resources. Per capita water supplies declined during 1987-95. The rate of water consumption exceeds renewable water supplies. Water shortages have reduced the use of fertile land for production, reduced the use of oil shale as an energy source, and reduced economic development because of high capital investment for water harnessing. Future efforts should focus on reuse of waste water, brackish water desalinization, and rainwater collection, which could satisfy about 30% of present water demand. Oil shale and waste heat from open-cycle gas turbines could be used for desalinization processes and generation of electric power. The likely doubling of population by 2020 creates a strong incentive to address water deficit issues.
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  4. 4

    Critical trends: global change and sustainable development.

    United Nations. Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development

    New York, New York, United Nations, 1997. iv, 76 p. (ST/ESA/255)

    This report identifies critical long-term trends in environmental and socioeconomic matters and policy implications. This report will be used for preliminary meetings for the next Earth Summit + 5. Seven chapters focus on development and the environment, trends in world population, energy and materials consumption, the food supply, water resources, human development, and conclusions. Developing countries are rapidly following patterns of developed countries. There is a global pattern of consumerism and capitalism. Wealth differences are separating the rich from the poor. Poor countries continue to be marginalized in a very visible way. Environmental air and water quality is improving in developed countries, but is deteriorating in developing countries. Concern about nonrenewable resources has lessened. Concern focuses on the threat of continuing degradation of renewable resources. The issues that constrain sustainable development are growing poverty, population growth and urbanization, fossil fuel consumption, and rapid natural resource degradation. Positive signs include positive economic forecasts, accelerated technological innovations, and the spread of democratic institutions. Population programs, agricultural management techniques, and high standards of public health and education have positive effects. Policy has failed to eradicate poverty, improve access to sanitation and energy supplies, and reduce natural resource degradation. Constraints include lack of financial resources, lack of institutional capacity, and political unwillingness. Promising policy approaches include increased investment in people, encouragement of clean and efficient technologies, and pricing reforms.
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