Thursday, June 14, 2012

World: We are screwed if we dont reduce consumption (people)

More than 100 science academies around the world have called on world leaders to take action on population and consumption at the Rio+20 summit.
They say past failures on these issues threaten the natural world and prospects for future generations. Experts in both developed and developing countries have joined forces on what used to be a divisive topic." The overall message is that we need a renewed focus on both population and consumption - it's not enough to look at one or the other," said Prof Charles Godray. "We need to look at both, because together they determine the footprint on the world."

The footprint is getting heavier and heavier, the academies warn. "The global population is currently around seven billion, and most projections suggest that it will probably lie between eight and 11 billion by 2050," their declaration says. "Global consumption levels are at an all time high, largely because of the high per-capita consumption of developed countries." If the billion poorest people are to have adequate access to food, water and energy, the academies say, developed countries will have to reduce their own consumption of natural resources. They say this can be done without reducing prosperity so long as different economic models are followed.

Failing to make these changes "will put us on track to alternative futures with severe and potentially catastrophic implications for human well-being".
The declaration builds on a recent report from the Royal Society. The topics of population and consumption are both mentioned in the draft agreement that negotiators are discussing in Rio. But both crop up in a far weaker form than many observers would like. The new report is an indication of how things have changed on the population question. In decades gone by, developing nations tended to see the issue as a ploy by rich countries to avoid talking about unsustainable consumption.

The African Institute for Development Policy in Nairobi who worked on the recent Royal Society report, said perceptions were changing. "Many African countries are feeling the effects of population growth, and are finding they'll need to deal with it in order to continue developing as well as to address their environmental issues," he told BBC News.

Dr Zulu also said that evidence accumulated over the last decade showed that overall, African women were having more children than they wanted - which gave politicians an incentive to increase family planning provision. In the formal negotiations, government delegates convened on Wednesday for intensive talks aimed at securing consensus on key themes.

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News from BBC News

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