The fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4), the most comprehensive United Nations assessment report on environment, development and human well-being has been officially launched at the UN Information Center.
See the BBC special report on the state of the planet in graphics. How many earths again?
- Over the last 20 years, the human population has increased by a third, global trade has tripled, and per capita income has gone up by 40%. Annual emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, have also increased by one third.
- As the human population grows it has reached the point, the UN says, “where the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available”.
- Sixteen thousand species are threatened with extinction. Habitat loss is a major factor as many forests are cleared for agriculture. The UN estimates the global annual loss of primary forest is 50,000 km2.
- The availability of fresh water will decline, according to the UN, who project that by 2025 1.8bn people will be affected by water scarcity. Sanitation is also a major issue, as contaminated water is the greatest single cause of human disease and death.
- By the end of 2007 it is estimated that more people will live in cities than rural areas for the first time in history.
(Thanks to JR)