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Washington, D.C., Island Press, 1991. lxii, 272 p.In 1988, the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Program established the Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change (IPCC) to consider scientific data on various factors of the climate change issue, e.g., emissions of major greenhouse gases, and to draw up realistic response strategies to manage this issue. Its members have agreed that emissions from human activities are indeed increasing sizably the levels of carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. The major conclusions are that effective responses need a global effort and both developed and developing countries must take responsibility to implement these responses. Industrialized countries must modify their economies to limit emissions because most emissions into the atmosphere come from these countries. They should cooperate with and also provide financial and technical assistance to developing countries to raise their living standards while preventing and managing environmental problems. Concurrently, developing countries must adopt measures to also limit emissions as their economies expand. Environmental protection must be the base for continuing economic development. There must be an education campaign to inform the public about the issue and the needed changes. Strategies and measures to confront rapid population growth must be included in a flexible and progressive approach to sustainable development. Specific short-term actions include improved energy efficiency, cleaner energy sources and technologies, phasing out CFCs, improved forest management and expansion of forests, improved livestock waste management, modified use and formulation of fertilizers, and changes in agricultural land use. Longer term efforts are accelerated and coordinated research programs, development of new technologies, behavioral and structural changes (e.g., transportation), and expansion of global ocean observing and monitoring systems.
In: Earth summit. Conversations with architects of an ecologically sustainable future, by Steve Lerner. Bolinas, California, Commonweal, 1991. 229-36.A senior associate with the World Resources Institute believes that it is more worthwhile to strengthen the UN Environment Program than to create a new international environmental organization. Another possibility would be to convert the UN Trusteeship Council's purpose from administering UN territories to dealing with environmental issues. The Council has an equal number of developing countries and developed countries and no country has veto power. She also favors ad hoc groups dealing with very specific issues, e.g., International Panel on Climate Change. We need an international debt management authority which purchases outstanding debt at real market prices to finance policies and programs that alleviate poverty and protect the environmental issues should lie with 1 organization. She dismisses suggestions that the Group of Seven industrialized nations serve as a group to propose international initiatives because developing countries would not accept the G-7 process plus the G-7 countries do not even agree on environmental issues. Citizens push US politicians to address environmental issues rather than the politicians leading on environmental issues. Some members of the US Congress have taken the initiative, however, including Senators Gore and Mikulski from Tennessee and Maryland, respectively. The President must have a vision for a transition to sustainable development, which he does not. In the 1973-74 oil crisis, industry took it upon itself to become more energy efficient and still had real growth in the gross national product, illustrating that the costs required to become more sustainable are not as great as many people claim. Sustainable agriculture would reduce the demand for fossil fuels, on which fertilizers and pesticides are based. It would require making institutional changes. USAID should change dramatically the system it uses to distribute foreign aid money and to dedicate considerably more money to the environment and development.
In: Earth summit. Conversations with architects of an ecologically sustainable future, by Steve Lerner. Bolinas, California, Commonweal, 1991. 25-38.The public debate on the environment leading to the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil has been restricted to global climate change instead of global change. The Summit should be part of an ongoing process and not a framework convention followed by protocols. Separate conventions for biodiversity and deforestation are likely to emerge, even though one convention integrating both biodiversity and deforestation is needed. Many environmental and development issues overlap, suggesting a need for an international group to coordinate these issues. Negotiating separate conventions for the various issues is costly for developing countries. Rapid population growth contributes to environmental degradation, but no coordinated effort exists to reduce it. The US continues to not support the UN Population Fund which, along with threats of US boycotts and disapproval, curbs initiatives to reduce population. At present population and economic growth rates, an environmental disaster will likely happen in the early 2000s. Developing countries, which also contribute greatly to global warming, will not take actions if industrialized nations do not initiate reductions of greenhouse gases. Developed countries emit the most greenhouse gases, have been responsible for most past emissions, and have the means to initiate reductions. Of industrialized nations, the US stands alone in setting targets to reduce carbon dioxide. Unlike some European nations, the US does not have an energy policy. The US abandoned public transportation for the automobile while Europe has a strong public transportation system. The World Bank has improved greatly in addressing global environmental issues, but only 1% of its energy lending is for energy efficiency. The Bank knows that projects implemented by nongovernmental organizations are more successful than those implemented by governments, yet it continues to lend money to governments. Humans need to redesign existing linear systems to be like nature's circular systems in which by-products are starting products for another reaction.