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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Study: Earth in failure mode

The so-called Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, released today, looks at 24 "services" the Earth provides to its people, and finds 15 in trouble. A product of 1,360 scientists in 95 countries, the far-reaching study constitutes a "stark warning" that "the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," according to the study's 45-member board.

A sample of the findings:
-- There are already more than 50 "dead zones" in oceans around the world, caused by an abundance of nutrient-rich runoff, usually from agriculture.
-- More than one-quarter of the world's wild fish stocks are overharvested.
-- Most species' populations are dropping.
-- By 2050, the world won't be able to feed everyone living.

According to the Philly Inquirer, what makes this study unique is that it is based on evidence that scientists generally agree on.

All is not lost. The authors recommend removing agricultural subsidies that harm the planet, protecting a lot more land, especially in and near the oceans (relevant content: ANWR's 1002 drilling area is coastal) , and use free-market incentives to reduce farm pollution and global warming gases.

Look for a lot more analysis on this report in the days ahead.

Link: Millenium Ecosystem Assessment