THE DOOMSDAY BOOK; A Shocking New Report Reveals That Man Has Destroyed a Third of the World's Natural Resources in Just 25 Years. Is It Too Late to Save the Planet for Future
Science, Jim McLEAN, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
The most terrifying book in decades was published yesterday. It will chill the heart more than any horror story ever could.
The 20th century Doomsday Book tells the true story of how we have killed off a third of the natural world in the last 25 years.
No evil geniuses of James Bond or Batman films played any part in nearly destroying the earth - we have done it all ourselves.
Shockingly, the Living Planet Index from the World-Wide Fund for Nature shows in frightening detail how we have soiled our own nest.
And it reveals the human race itself is stifling the earth like a cancer.
We are literally sucking the juices from our planet - half of all its freshwater supply is now used by us.
Whole seas such as the Aral in Asia - which has lost 70 per cent of its water - are drying out and shrinking.
The world's forest, freshwater and marine ecosystems have deteriorated dramatically since 1970. Forests dwindle, animals species perish and carbon dioxide poisons the air.
Unless we act now, predictions of a burnt-out and bleak earth are likely to come true.
Yet the havoc and damage we cause is accelerating. The report - the world's most comprehensive ever - catalogues a series of natural disasters happening under our noses.
Among the worst are:
Waterborne life in river and lakes has declined by 50 per cent from 1970 to 1995.
Marine ecosystems have deteriorated by 30 per cent over the same period.
The annual decline in the condition of the seas in the 1990s is now up to four per cent.
We have destroyed one 10th of the world's forest - woods which had stood for thousands of years - in a quarter of a century.
The report is the first attempt to sum up the world's health woes in the form of a simple index - the Living Planet Index (LPI).
It also shows that carbon dioxide emissions, from cars and businesses in particular, have more than doubled since 1960 and are far in excess of Earth's ability to absorb them.
The world's worst countries for carbon dioxide emissions per person are Singapore, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates with the United States, Norway and Australia coming next. The UK is in 20th place.
Australia is also in the top seven countries where wildlife species are most threatened, with Mauritius, New Zealand and Madagascar at the top.
Wood and paper consumption have increased by two thirds world-wide. And most forests are still not managed renewably, meaning there are less and less trees each year to help absorb the carbon dioxide building up.
The world's two traditional "lungs" - the rain forests of Brazil and central Africa - have shrunk pitiably. This shrinkage, if allowed to continue at the same rate, would eventually disrupt the world's weather systems.
Satellite pictures of the Brazilian Amazon show forest has been lost at a rate of 19,000 square km a year.
In Brazil alone, where the original forest was the size of Western Europe, an area the size of Spain has already been slashed and burnt.
But some scientists believe a third "lung" could be man-made to literally save the world. The oceans and tens of thousands of tons of scrap iron have emerged as mankind's best hope of surviving the global warming crisis.
It has been discovered iron can act as a seed to the oceans. Now the hope is the oceans will provide an efficient way to remove toxic greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
A life-creating experiment is being planned for 2000 when scientists aim to create ocean patches of lush vegetation in hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean by pouring in tonnes of iron from ground- down scrap cars.
Michael Markels, chief of US firm Ocean Farming, believes it is the answer to global warming. His firm has bought rights to more than a million square miles of ocean near the Marshall Islands, in the South Pacific, for the experiments. …