Protecting world resources: is time running out?
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Such criticism does not imply that the trends identified are unimportant or that they can safely be ignored. What is questioned is the implication that the world is rapidly heading for disaster and is fast running out of time to avert it.Skip to next paragraph
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''Prompt and vigorous changes in public policy around the world are needed, . . .'' Global 2000 said. It added, ''If decisions are delayed until the problems become worse, options for effective action will be severely reduced.'' This sounds remarkably like ''gloom and doom'' statements fashionable 15 years ago that have turned out to be grossly exaggerated.
For example, in 1969 United Nations Secretary-General U Thant said: ''I can only conclude from the information that is available to me . . . that the members of the United Nations have perhaps 10 years left in which to subordinate their ancient quarrels and launch a global partnership to curb the arms race, to improve the human environment, to defuse the population explosion, and to supply the required momentum to development efforts. If such a global partnership is not forged within the next decade, then I very much fear that the (environmental) problems I have mentioned will have reached such staggering proportions that they will be beyond our capacity to control.''
That deadline is past, and no one seriously suggests the world has passed a point of no return. Critics have objected to this same kind of hyperbole in the Global 2000 report.
''The report's authors acknowledge that adequate information does not exist for evaluating the future. . . . They simply asserted that the future will be catastrophic unless we change our ways rapidly and drastically,'' says Dr. Dubos.
British ecologist Lord Ashby of Brandon, who has long been critical of the apocalyptic approach to environmental and resource challenges, has outlined what he considers a more fruitful course. He explains: