Swift and drastic changes are needed to reverse the deterioration of the environment and reshape the global economy, a report by the research group Worldwatch Institute has concluded.
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Background: Swift and drastic changes are needed to reverse the deterioration of the environment and reshape the global economy, a report by the research group Worldwatch Institute has concluded.
The report, titled "State of the World 1992" and released on Saturday (January 11), said the future of the global environment depends on altered lifestyles and a dramatic shift to smaller families, to re-establish a balance between the population and the natural systems on which it depends.
The report says that emissions from the burning of fossil fuels continue to damage the environment. The protective ozone shield in heavily populated latitudes of the northern hemisphere is thinning twice as fast as was estimated a few years ago.
The planet's degradation is damaging human health. By the age of ten, thousands of children living in southern California's Los Angeles basin have respiratory systems permanently impaired by polluted air. An estimated 300,000 citizens of the former Soviet Union are being treated for radiation sickness.
Experts predict that the rapid thinning of the ozone layer will lead to an estimated additional 200,000 deaths from skin cancer over the next half-century in the United States alone.
As deforestation and soil erosion increase and more deserts are created, humankind's ability to feed itself withers: world grain production has been falling by one per cent per year since 1984.
The report recommended adopting more measures similar to one proposed by the European Community that would impose an energy tax on member governments equal to 10 United States dollars per barrel of oil.
The tax is designed to lower consumption and reduce carbon emissions, while fostering investments in projects promoting energy efficiency and renewable sources, such as solar and wind power.
But the most pressing problem the world faces is still its ballooning population. World population increases by about 92 million each year, the report says. Already it exceeds five billion.
Some experts say that a child born today can expect to retire around the year 2050 in a world of 10 billion people.