Stresses loom: but changes possible

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Here is the overall finding of the US government's three-year study, "The Global 200 Report": "If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less stable ecologically, and more vulnerable to disruption than the world we live in now. Serious stresses involving population, resources, and environment are clearly visible ahead. Despite greater material output, the world's people will be poorer in many ways than they are today.

"For hundreds of millions of the desperately poor, the outlook for food and other necessities of life will be no better. For many it will be worse. Barring revolutionary advances in technology, life for most people on earth will be more precarious in 2000 than it is now -- unless the nations of the world act decisively to alter current trends."

Authors of the report explain the projections are not predictions. "Rather," the report says, 'they depict conditions that are likely to develop if there are no changes in public policies, institutions, or rates of technological advance, and if there are no wars or other major disruptions.

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"Keener awareness of the nature of the current trends, however, may induce changes that will alter these trends and the projected outcome. . . .

"With its limitations and rough approximations, the global 2000 study may be seen as no more than a reconnaissance of the futre; nonetheless its conclusions are reinforced by similar findings of other recent global studies. . . . All these studies are in general agreement on the nature of the problems and on the threats they pose to the future welfare of humankind. The available evidence leaves no doubt that the world -- including this nation -- faces enourmous, urgent, and complex problems in the decades immediately ahead."

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