From The Universe dated August 21, 1994:
As long ago as 1980 the World Wildlife Fund, as it was then called,
the United Nations Environment Programme and the international union for
the Conservation of Nature published their World Conservation Strategy.
They argued that man is just a part of the ecological order, not its
master; that we lack a sense of responsibility in caring for creation.
In the developing countries the situation is disastrous.
- The deserts of the world are now expanding by 60,000 kilometres
annually - almost the size of Ireland.
- Every minute 20 hectares of tropical rain-forest are destroyed -
these are the most important ecosystems on the globe. The area of
productive forest will be halved during this decade.
- 25,000 plant species and 1,000 species and sub-species of
mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish, face extinction.
The bulldozers and chainsaws hack down the forests, the aircraft
spray their defoliants, the factory ships ruthlessly deplete fish
stocks, and the prospectors extract minerals while destroying flora,
fauna and anything else that stands in the way of a quick buck. We have
the cheek to call this progress.
A World Conservation Strategy could maintain real progress without
these dire consequences.
Britain and the EC should emulate Denmark's admirable Environmental
Investments Support Act by directing loans and grants into appropriate
We should increase our aid programme and direct a high proportion of
the extra funds at tackling environmental damage and the depletion of
We should improve our own skills and knowledge about the management
of forestry, the assessment of resources and pest and disease control;
and make the knowledge available in the developing world.
We should take positive action against multinationals and other
companies who wantonly destroy and irresponsibly pollute.
Non-governmental agencies should target the very poorest people and
plant fast-growing energy crops and dig wells - to combat soil erosion
Taken together such a strategy would ensure the sustainable use of
natural resources by us and by future generations while at the same time
improving the lives of the poorest people living in the poorest
It is very hard for those of us privileged to live in the rich world
to fully understand the awfulness of the poor world. Mine is not an
appeal to simply cast away the products of the consumer society.
When the juggernaut slows down and our economies stagnate it is the
poor who inevitably come off the worse. There are lots of things we
could no doubt do without, but economic flagellation and hair shirts
hold little appeal for most people.
We should show a greater sense of responsibility in how we use our
This is no unattainable or dreamy ideal. Mankind must urgently
recognise that our complex world is politically and economically
interconnected and each of us is dependent on the other.
Reproduced with thanks.
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