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The world 28 years
ago: In January 1989 Time magazine devoted an issue to the
Endangered Earth! Viki Wright generously sent me a
It could have been published yesterday. Just alter a
figure here or there, and we were then in exactly the position we
are in now, except then we had room to manoeuvre.
pictures of deliberate megafires "torching the Brazilian rain
forest" with the subtitle Unprecedented profligacy in the name
More photos of floods in Bangladesh,
drought in North Dakota, smog in Beijing, famine in Africa and death
in the North Sea. Nothing has changed!!!
One article is
powerfully entitled The Death of Birth on our reckless
extermination of diversity and species.
the Heat, talks of greenhouse gasses creating a climate
James Hansen, who is still front page news as
head of NASA's Institute of Space Studies and one-time adviser
to the US Government, said then (just as he is saying now) "It
is time to stop waffling .. The evidence is pretty strong that the
greenhouse effect is here".
The article includes these two
"Tree planting will have
negligible impact if people continue to pump CO2 into the
"The most effective way to spur
conservation is to raise the cost of fossil fuels as current prices
do not reflect the environmental cost."
Did we listen?
There are other
stunningly accurate and prescient articles on trash and pollution,
and population. The numbers indicate how desperate
our situation has become, for we were 5.2 billion then, and have
grown to a billion more today.
One page quotes Al Gore, who
was then a Senator, and wrote "We are at an environmental
boiling point right now". He summed up today's political impass by
quoting General Omar Bradley "Its time we steered by the
stars and not by the lights of passing ships."
1989 was the year of
Exxon-Valdez, the Berlin Wall and Tiananmen Square. It was the year
that the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize.
World! - and hold your head in shame. Now it may be too late when
then we still had the most precious commodity of all, Time.
wild: Globally, the 20% of the world's people in the
highest-income countries account for 86% of total private
consumption - the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%.
Then who has to reduce their
If the richest fifth consume
almost half the world's meat and own over 80% of the world's
vehicles, then who has to make sacrifices to lower emissions.
If you are reading this, then
you are likely to have an over-large footprint, so start planning
now to buy less, own less and consume a lot less.
We can transform our
life on this planet and maintain
- but ONLY if we start NOW.