The resourceful earth: a response to Global 2000.
The original 1980 Global 2000 Report to the President has received wide circulation and has influenced crucial government policies. This book disagrees with the report's gloomy findings and presents the relevant reliable evidence, which mainly reassures rather than frightens. Global 2000 paints an overall picture of global trends that is wrong, partly because it relies on nonfacts and partly because it misinterprets the facts it does present. This book is not primarily a critique of Global 2000, but a compendium of careful, authoritative, independent studies of many of the topics dealt with by Global 2000. The chapters are intended to be a fair assessment of the trends together with an analysis of what the trends portend for the future. Global 2000 predicts that, if present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less ecologically stable, and more vulnerable to disruption than at present. Serious stresses involving population, resources and environment are clearly visible ahead, and life for most people on earth will be more precarious in 2000. In stark opposition, the high points of this book's findings indicate that signs of demographic, scientific, and economic success are evident in the worldwide increase in life expectancy and substantial declines in birth rates and infant, child and maternal mortality rates. Many are still hungry, but the food supply has been improving, at least since World War II. Trends in world forests are not worrying, in general, and there is no statistical evidence for rapid loss of species in the next 2 decades. The fish catch, after a pause, has resumed its long upward trend. Land availability will not increasingly constrain world agriculture in coming decades. Water does not pose a problem of physical scarcity or disappearance, nor does the climate show signs of unusual and threatening changes. Mineral resources are becoming less scarce, and there is no persuasive reason to believe that the world oil price will rese in coming decades. Nuclear power gives every evidence of costing fewer lives per unit of energy produced than does coal or oil. Solar energy sources are too dilute to compete economically for much of humankind's energy needs. Finally, threats of air and water pollution have been vastly overblown. While not predicting that all will be rosy in the future, this book does show that aggregate global and US trends are mostly improving rather than deteriorating.