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close this bookWIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 06, No. 1 - Critical Issues in Health and the Environment (WIT, 1994, 16 pages)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSPECIAL FOCUS: Sustainable Development: Providing for the Future Generations
View the documentOur Common Future?
View the documentDID YOU KNOW?
View the documentConsumption and Waste Levels in Developed and Developing Countries
View the documentGOOD NEWS
View the documentFOOD FOR THOUGHT: The Amish and Sustainable Development
View the documentDiet, Nutrition and Chronic Diseases: An International Perspective
View the documentVoices of the Planet
View the documentPOINT OF VIEW: Enviromentalism: Ideology and Ethics


· Most demographers predict that Earth will have 12 billion inhabitants by late in the twenty first century. Unfortunately, current losses of arable land suggest that there will not be enough arable land to feed the projected population. If annual soil loss and competing users of arable land can be stopped completely within a century and intervening land loss limited to no more than 15 percent of the total arable land, these will only be about 2.8 billion hectares of arable land, significantly less than the 3.1 billion hectares required to feed a world population of 12 billion at present yields.

SOURCE: Global 2000, The Millennium Institute

· Over 98% of all the species which have ever lived are now extinct. A species becomes extinct when better adapted competitors rise up to displace it. If virtually all species have, sooner or later gone the way of the dodo, and been replaced, why should we care about threats to biological diversity in 1994? Human destruction of habitat has resulted in a loss of species unmatched in 60 million years. Some experts believe that up to 25% of the species now living will become extinct within a single human lifetime. A report by the National Science foundation of the U.S. says that, "The rate of extinction over the next four decades is likely to rise to at least 100 times the normal rate of extinction..." There are about 10 million species, although scientists have described "only" about 1.5 million species, including approximately 240,000 plants, 9,000 birds, because they are cut off from nature and care little where their food, medicine, clothing, and building materials come from.

SOURCE: United Nations Environment Programme's Con-vetion on Biological Diversity

· Pesticides are potentially more harmful to women than to men because of female hormones like estrogen and the physiological changes brought on by menstruation and menopause. Interaction of these factors with toxins can lead to a range of disorders from cancer to chronic fatigue syndrome.

SOURCE: Health Watch

Chronic exposure to high levels of pollutants may have a cumulative and irreversible impact on children's long-term health, such as cellular damage, reduced lung function, increased susceptibility to respiratory illness, stunted growth of lung capacity, accelerated aging of the lungs, and chronic lung disease.

SOURCE: World Health Organization

· No more than 5,000 to 7,000 tigers remain on the planet, a population decline of roughly 95% in this century. U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbit has sadly noted that "There may not be another chance to save the tiger."

Source: Time, March 28, 94


Many marine turtles are endangered. Overfishing, stray dogs on beaches and disturbed nesting areas are some of the growing problems facing turtles worldwide. The Pacific is no exception.

Turtles have a unique life-cycle, traveling vast distances between nesting and feeding grounds throughout the pacific they are also an important part of the diets and customs of many Pacific islanders. However, as females are 20 to 50 years when they begin to lay eggs, overexploitaton can be particularly devastating to turtle populations. This is a growing problem where human populations are increasing rapidly or where turtles are fished for meat of turtle shell for the handicraft trade.

SOURCE: The Siren, #49, 1993

· A British research team from London's Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine has noticed a decline in sperm motility, density and an increase in abnormally shaped sperm among British men. the researchers think there might be a link between these changes and pollution of drinking water. Two samples of men showed similar increases in abnormally shaped sperm, but only those men whose water came from the Thames exhibited the drop in sperm density and motility.

SOURCE: Science New, February 26, 1994

· Over the past 70 years - one lifetime the human population grew from 1.8 billion to 5.3 billion. For every person alive 70 years ago, there are now three. Currently, the world's population is growing faster than over before. Each year, 90 million people are added.

SOURCE: Populi, UNFPA, Vol. 23, No. 2, 1994

· Scientist generally attribute the incremental rise in global warming. Yet, according to one group of geoscientists, about one third to the increase in sea levels can be attributed to human activities, especially pumping aquifers and cutting forests. Though the amount of water is disputed, the effect of groundwater withdrawal and deforestation on rising sea levels is not. When water from underground sources is pumped to the surface - as often occurs in irrigation - the water, normally stored underground, either finds its way into rivers that feed the oceans or evaporated into the air to return as rain over the seas. Deforestation produces additional water in the oceans via rain as well. Researchers have found that through decomposition or fire, felled trees give off water into the atmosphere with such atmospheric water reaching the oceans as rain.

SOURCE: Science News, January 8, 1994

· Intuit mothers of Northern Quebec, Canada, show some of the highest concentrations of PCBs in their breast milk. The PCBs probably derive from their high consumption of seal and beluga whale blubber. Studies indicate that high concentration of PCBs in breast milk can impair brain development in nursing newborns. However, the research team at Laval University Hospital in Quebec, which studied the Intuit suggests that omega- 3 fatty acids contained in the blubber fat may also protect the infants against damage to their central nervous systems. Damaged nervous systems were not found among Intuit babies but high rates of infectious disease, do however occur among Intuit infants and it is speculated that PCBs in their diet may account for damage to their immune systems

SOURCE: Science News, February 12, 1994

· Experts estimate that as many as 40 billion hours are spent hauling water in rural Africa each year. The burden, which falls primarily on women and girls, steals time from school and other productive activities and burns energy that could be better expended.