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Earth Day arrives: with a report card

Forest
The world's economy has grown at the expense of forest cover  
ENN



March 20, 2000
Web posted at: 3:46 p.m. EST (2046 GMT)

Earth Day turns 30 this year. To mark the occasion, an environmental group has issued a report card on how Earth is faring since the planet's natural systems were first declared imperiled.

"The destructive trends that sparked the first Earth Day in 1970 continue to cause massive ecological decline," said the WorldWatch Institute in issuing its report card.

The institute's assessment shows that the world's economy has grown at the expense of forest cover, farmland, climate, depleted oceans and elbow room.

The report card is divided into four categories:

Energy and Climate — The burning of fossil fuels for energy has released 160 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere since 1970. The increased concentration of greenhouse gases has contributed to record temperatures worldwide and may be a factor in weather disruptions, which alone cost $93 billion in 1998.

Pests
Pesticide use begets pesticide-resistant pests and crop diseases  

Chemicals and the Biological Boomerang — Three new synthetic chemicals are introduced each day. One effect of increased pesticide use is the evolution of pesticide-resistant pests and crop diseases.

Population and the Land — The world's population passed the 6 billion mark in October 1999. Since 1970, the population has nearly doubled and the share of cropland per person has been cut nearly in half. One out of six people is now chronically hungry.

Commerce and the Oceans — The world's economy has more than doubled in the past 30 years. Selling ocean fish generates a large part of that income, resulting in overfished stocks.

No report card is complete without suggestions for improvement. The answers to Earth's environmental ills lie in renewable energy, organic farming, a stabilized population and an end to overfishing.

"The environmental movement, having enjoyed many successes at the city, state and national levels, now needs to begin to address the global problems that threaten to undo all our progress elsewhere," writes Denis Hayes, chairman of Earth Day 2000, in the March issue of World Watch magazine.

Copyright 2000, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved



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