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Earth Forum Hears Dire Warnings Of Environmental Collapse

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  • Pat Neuman
    Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN Millennium Project. by Giles Hewitt New York (AFP) Mar 29, 2006 The cataclysmic consequences of unsustainable
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3 7:29 AM
      Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN Millennium Project.
      by Giles Hewitt
      New York (AFP) Mar 29, 2006
      The cataclysmic consequences of unsustainable development pose a
      challenge to the world that will make the war on terror seem a mere
      distraction, a global environmental conference heard Tuesday.

      In a keynote speech opening the fourth biennial State of the Planet
      conference at New York's Columbia University, Jeffrey Sachs, director
      of the UN Millennium Project, said ignorance, misplaced priorities and
      indifference were keeping the world firmly on a path to disaster.

      "Everything we think is at the core of our geopolitics -- the war on
      terror, Islamic fundamentalism -- have almost nothing to do with the
      real challenges we face on this planet," Sachs said.

      "They are a distraction and a misunderstanding," he added.

      Addressing the two-day forum's main topic -- the feasibility of
      sustainable development for billions of people worldwide -- Sachs
      painted a grim picture of systemic environmental collapse, coupled
      with war, famine and pandemic disease.

      The astonishing pace of economic growth in Asia and the increasing
      demands of development in the industrialised world will in a matter of
      decades, Sachs argued, impose a burden far beyond that which the world
      is already woefully failing to carry.

      "It is the central challenge we face on the planet," he said. "Every
      single major ecological system we have is already under profound stress."

      While highlighting climate change, deforestation, oceanic degradation
      and population growth, Sachs, who is also director of the Earth
      Institute at Columbia University, warned against viewing the problems
      associated with unsustainable development as an esoteric issue for

      "Politics is central," he said, condemning what he called the
      "scientifically antagonistic" policies of the current US
      administration under President George W. Bush.

      "We're fighting all the wrong wars in this country," Sachs said,
      adding that what the White House really needed was a subscription to
      Scientific American magazine.

      "Our political leaders do not have the training to understand these
      issues," he said, citing the crisis in Sudan's western region of
      Darfur which Sachs argued was primarily the result of water shortages
      that had prompted conflict.

      "We view these crises first as political crises when we should view
      them as ecological crises," he said.

      "And they will abound. They will get worse." Rajendra Pachauri,
      chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
      Change, warned of a dangerous disconnect between the makers of macro
      development policy and the people their policies were meant to benefit.

      "We need to listen to local voices and seek local solutions," Pachauri

      "We need to think of a new form of democracy," he added, arguing that
      freedom from tyranny was incomplete without freedom from poverty and want.

      "Democracy is not merely holding elections," he said.

      Source: Agence France-Presse

      Related Links
      UN Millennium Project
      Columbia University
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