Major UN report about to be issued. New York Times article on this includes:
The human population is living far beyond its means and inflicting damage to the environment that could pass points of no return, according to a major report being issued today by the United Nations. Mr. Zarqawi was killed in an air strike on an isolated house about 30 miles north of Baghdad. Iraqi officials announce the death the next morning, and Al Qaeda confirmed that he had died. Climate change, the rate of extinction of species, and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the threats putting humanity at risk, according to the United Nations Environment Program in its fourth Global Environmental Outlook since 1997. “The human population is now so large that the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available at current consumption patterns,” Achim Steiner, the executive director of the Environment Program, said in a telephone interview.
U.N. Warns of Environmental Threats
UN media release announcing press conference includes:
While the world had spent 30 years debating whether global warming was in fact happening, the cost of climate change was growing ever higher, and a history of lost opportunity after lost opportunity was growing longer, correspondents heard today at a Headquarters press conference upon the launch of a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report. Now the world needed to pay attention to a whole host of environmental concerns, said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, introducing the Programme’s report, entitled “Global Environment Outlook: Environment for Development” (GEO-4). The “GEO-4” report, as it is known, provides an updated assessment of the world’s atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity, 20 years after the issuance of the seminal report by the Brundtland Commission -- “Our Common Future”, which Mr. Steiner called the “previous peak” in environmental awareness and political discourse. “We essentially step before the world today with a report that is, in essence, saying that in all the fundamental major challenges and trends that Brundtland identified 20 years ago, we have not turned the corner,” he said, adding, “That is an extremely sobering analysis.”
He was joined at the briefing by Olav Kjorven, Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP, and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. Also on hand were a few of the report’s lead authors of the more than 390 experts who helped prepare the document and the more than a thousand people worldwide who peer-reviewed it.
Mr. Steiner explained that “GEO-4” was meant to provide further consolidated evidence, not only of individual locations and phenomena, but of the current system-wide view that a growing range of evidence existed that the world was coming to a brink where events were either uncontrollable or reversible only at high cost and effort. Much of what the report said about that “brink” –- with the use of terms like “tipping points, thresholds, feedback mechanisms, collapsing ecosystems, and dead zones” to describe a host of documented phenomena -- was not that different from the assessment on global warming made by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he added.
Calling the report “useful, scientifically robust and very sobering”, Mr. Kjorven said it pointed in the direction of priority environmental issues that had critical consequences to humanity’s well-being, and which “scream out for broad action”. The report also emphasized the world’s growing vulnerability, Mr. Steiner said, adding that the phenomena it described were of such a magnitude and moving with such rapidity, that humanity and nature’s normal ability to adapt and adjust to changes were “simply being undermined”.
PRESS">http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2007/071025_UNEP.doc.htm]PRESS CONFERENCE ON LAUNCH OF REPORT BY UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME, ‘GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT OUTLOOK: ENVIRONMENT FOR DEVELOPMENT’