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Civilization Faces 'Perfect Storm of Ecological and Social Problems'

  • Abuse of the environment has created an 'absolutely unprecedented' emergency, say Blue Planet prizewinners
    By John Vidal
    the Guardian - UK, Feb 20, 2012
    Straight to the Source

Celebrated scientists and development thinkers today warn that civilization is faced with a perfect storm of ecological and social problems driven by overpopulation, over consumption and environmentally malign technologies.

In the face of an "absolutely unprecedented emergency", say the 18 past winners of the Blue Planet prize - the unofficial Nobel for the environment - society has "no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilization. Either we will change our ways and build an entirely new kind of global society, or they will be changed for us".

The stark assessment of the current global outlook by the group, who include Sir Bob Watson, the government's chief scientific adviser on environmental issues, US climate scientist James Hansen, Prof Jose Goldemberg, Brazil's secretary of environment during the Rio Earth summit in 1992, and Stanford University Prof Paul Ehrlich, is published today on the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the UN environment program (Unep). The paper, which was commissioned by Unep, will feed into the Rio +20 earth summit conference in June.

Apart from dire warnings about biodiversity loss and climate change, the group challenges governments to think differently about economic "progress".

"The rapidly deteriorating biophysical situation is more than bad enough, but it is barely recognized by a global society infected by the irrational belief that physical economies can grow forever and disregarding the facts that the rich in developed and developing countries get richer and the poor are left behind.


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