In this year's book, we have assembled the latest information on these new environmental threats, and have also described some of the surprising and potentially dangerous connections between these problems. One chapter, for example, examines the far-reaching effects that climate change may have on natural ecosystems, while another shows how dependent humanity is on the "services" provided by those ecosystems--from the pollination of crops to the maintenance of safe water supplies.
On the principal threats addressed in Rio, including climate change and the loss of biodiversity, progress so far has been slow and inadequate. Yet we see many signs that the policy wheels have begun to turn, and remain optimistic that the complex international agreements signed in 1992 will soon bear fruit. As described in Chapter 9, experience in tackling the ozone problem has shown that with the concerted efforts of scientists, industry leaders, government officials,
and citizen activists, a strong international agreement can lead to surprisingly rapid progress.
The first step to action is awareness, and on this front there are many signs of hope. From insurance companies to agribusiness firms, concern about environmental trends is rising. The banking community is beginning to worry about the sustainability of its investments. And the insurance industry has begun to cut back on its coverage in regions that are vulnerable to tropical storms, which it believes are becoming more frequent and powerful as a result of global climate change.
All these trends strengthen the interest in Worldwatch research. We deeply appreciate the interest and the support from every corner of the planet. It helps us retain our optimism that we will, indeed, one day succeed in reversing the degradation of the planet and creating an environmentally sustainable global economy for our children.
- Chapter 1: The Legacy of Rio
- Chapter 2: Facing the Prospect of Food Scarcity
- Chapter 3: Preserving Gloval Cropland
- Chapter 4: Preventing Chronic Disease in Developing Countries
- Chapter 5: Tracking the Ecology of Climate Change
- Chapter 6: Valuing Nature's Services
- Chapter 7: Transforming Security
- Chapter 8: Reforming Subsidies
- Chapter 9: Learning from the Ozone Experience
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