An Inclusive Litany

1/16/02

From the introduction to the 2002 edition of the State of the World, an annual report published by the Worldwatch Institute:
It is now clear in a way that it never was before that the world of the early twenty-first century is far from stable. At a time when we are still adding a billion people to the human population every 15 years, many societies are struggling with the difficult transition from traditional rural societies to modern, urban, middle-class ones. In many of these societies, basic human needs for food, water, health care, and education are not being met, with over a billion people living on less than a dollar a day. Moreover, the lack of democratic political representation and the concentration of economic and political power in a few hands has created a fundamental instability in many nations—an instability that echoes around the world in the form of large-scale human migration, illegal drug exports, and, increasingly, terrorism. If the lofty social and ecological goals of the Rio Earth Summit had been achieved, it is possible that the crisis of the last year would not have occurred.

[Ed.: The 19th edition of this report, marked by the departure of Institute founder Lester Brown, is the first not to predict imminent global famine. The Institute still advocates many other questionable policy prescriptions such as promotion of organic agriculture, which is about two-thirds as productive as modern agriculture (thus requiring the conversion of 50 percent more land to grow crops on), entails far more soil erosion due to the proscription against using genetic strains that allow "no-till" farming, and would require six times more organic fertilizer (animal manure) than is currently available.]

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