Friday, August 11, 2006

Signs of the Times

In a piece titled SIGNS OF THE TIMES, Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman refer to two recent books:

1. Vital Signs 2006-2007, published by the Washington, D.C.-based WorldWatch Institute, which contends that "the health of the global economy and the stability of nations will be shaped by our ability to address the huge imbalances in natural resource systems"; and

2. The Least Developed Countries Report 2006, issued by the United Nations
Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which argues that while there
have been relatively higher rates of economic growth in the Least
Developed Countries (LDCs, a UN-designated group of the world's poorest
50 countries), it is "not translating into poverty reduction and
improved human well-being."

In the article, Mokhiber and Weissman quote fascinating factoids from the books such as the following:

1. Global oil consumption in 2004 was 3.7 billion tons, about eight
times more than in 1950. Coal consumption was two-and-a-half times more
than 1950, and natural gas more than 15 times greater.

2. 2005 was the warmest year ever recorded on Earth. Atmospheric
concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 379.6 parts per million for 2005.

3. Thanks largely to Hurricane Katrina, weather-related disasters caused
more than $200 billion in damage, nearly double the previous record.
Three of the 10 strongest hurricanes ever recorded occurred in 2005.

4. Global production of photovoltaic cells -- which generate
electricity from sunlight -- increased 45 percent in 2005, with current
levels six times the amount produced in 2000.

Mokhiber and Weissman conclude: "Overall, however, there's no way to look at the data in these two books and conclude anything but that the current way of doing things is not working".

The full story is at: Sphere: Related Content

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