Tuesday 15 June 2004

Planet Crumbles While We're Off Fighting Terror

History has shown that human societies often misjudge risk, and that is the case today. With world attention focused almost exclusively on terrorism and Iraq, another, even more serious security threat deepens -- the global environmental/humanitarian crisis.

While we remain virtually hypnotized by terrorism, humanity is quietly destroying the biosphere in which we live, ourselves and our future along with it. Just since 9/11, 25 million children died from preventable causes, the world's population grew by 200 million people and thousands of species went extinct. Also, 250,000 square miles of forest were lost, 50,000 square miles of arable land turned to desert, 8 billion tons of carbon were added to the atmosphere and air pollution claimed more than 4 million lives.

Our boat is sinking, we know the causes and consequences, and we know how to solve the problem. Yet policy-makers keep rearranging the deck chairs. Left unattended, this broad environmental/humanitarian crisis will foreclose any hope for security in the world. Certainly we must address terrorism, but just as certainly we must ensure our planet's sustainability.

Some of the key indicators of our current condition help put these relative risks in perspective.

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