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40 Years of Environmental Diplomacy - What Do We Have to Show for It?

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It was 1972, and to anyone who was paying attention, it was obvious that we humans were making a real mess of things. Tropical forests were falling at an alarming rate. Whale populations were in a death spiral. Our cities were choked with smog, our rivers had turned into fire traps, and we were getting the first inklings that all of our industrial activity might actually be warming the globe.

To right the course, representatives from 114 countries met in Stockholm, Sweden, at the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment - the first major global effort to clean up our collective act - and an era of environmental diplomacy was born.

Four decades later, what do we have to show for it?

First, the bad news:


 Biodiversity: The fight to save the whales back in the 1970s and '80s seems like a quaint notion now. Around the world, 20,000 species of plants and animals are at high risk of going extinct in the wild, according to the Union for Conservation of Nature, which maintains the "red list" of species on the brink. If we continue the way we're going, we could lose three out of every four species on Earth - the largest mass extinction since the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
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