- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.; Rev e. edition (21 Mar. 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393323862
- ISBN-13: 978-0393323863
- Product Dimensions: 18 x 2 x 23.6 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,207,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
State of the World 2003 (State of the World (Paperback)) Paperback – 21 Mar 2003
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About the Author
The Worldwatch Institute is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit research and publishing organization dedicated to fostering the evolution of an environmentally sustainable society.
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- a review of the year
- the challenges we face
- the rapid decline on the global bird population with 12 recommendations toward a sustainable future for birds and biodiversity
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- the growing threat of Malaria with 10 essential strategies
- new and sustainable energy technologies with eight points for forging a new energy future
- the destructive effect of mining
- uniting divided cities and
- engaging religion in the quest for a sustainable world
In his speech opening the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in August 2002, President Mbeki drew on South Africa's precipitous overturning of apartheid as an example of the very rapid progress the world needs to make in combating the challenges before us. If Rio in 1992 provided the long-term road map for the creation of a sustainable world, Johannesburg marked a shift to modest concrete plans of action, building on the Millenium Development Goals agreed by Heads of State in 2000. The substantial involvement of NGOs, committed to social betterment, environmental progress and economic opportunity is accelerating the process of global change by bringing fresh ideas, imposing new pressures, and by setting up voluntary codes of conduct. NGOs are filling the gap left by governments and their activity may lead to alliances between governments, NGOs, and UN agencies similar to the 280 partnerships agreed in September 2002.
Growing inequality is one of the most disturbing global trends forcing developing countries to assume a bigger role in setting the international agenda. We have one or perhaps two generations in which to reinvent ourselves and overcome the five major threats: increasing numbers of people who lack the means for a decent life; increasing carbon emissions; risks from toxic chemicals; invasions of species carried in ballast water, packaging, wood products, and crop shipments; ecological decline. Despite the obvious need to change and despite our technical competence, fundamental change appears to be only a remote possibility. But there are success stories such as the eradication of smallpox and stabilizing world population. A few years ago population was increasing by about 90 million per year and it is now 77 million annually, partly due to AIDS but partly due to rapidly declining birth rates in countries like Iran. Organic farming is now the fastest growing sector of the world agricultural economy, while wind and photovoltaic generating capacity is increasing by about 25% pa.
There is growing support for the concept that we must reintegrate the head and heart of society and reestablish spirituality as a partner in dialogue with science. To accomplish this, the two groups will need to surmount the suspicion and misunderstanding that have kept them at arm's length. Religious institutions and leaders can bring five strong asserts to building a sustainable world: the capacity to shape worldviews, moral authority, a large base of adherents, significant material resources, and community building capacities. Despite the many laudable advances, serious obstacles remain to more extensive religious/environmental collaboration. "The challenge for environmentalists and other advocates of sustainability, meanwhile, may be to build a greater appreciation for the importance of spirituality into their own work. Public overtures toward people's spiritual sensibilities could be a powerful step forward for sustainability. This is important not simply to win religious people as allies, but because spirituality is important for development. All development activities are embedded in a cultural context; if pursued unwisely, they can provoke a cultural backlash. The Shah of Iran, in his attempt to "modernize" the country between the 1950s and 1970s, paid too little attention to religious sensibilities and learned firsthand, through the 1979 revolution that dethroned him, how costly this insensitivity can be. By combining their considerable skills and complementary perspectives, environmentalists and religious people can help reunite our civilization's head and heart, re-engaging religion in the quest for a new cosmology, a new world view for our time. Cultural historian Thomas Berry calls this emerging perspective a New Story - the story of a people in an intimate and caring relationship with their planet, with their cosmos, and with each other. Its ethics would deal not just with homicide and suicide, but equally with biocide and geocide, in Berry's words. It would be as comfortable with awe and wonder as with weights and measures. It would rewrite the story of unrestrained science and technology, of a human species alienated from its own home. It would be a vehicle to guide us to a socially just and environmentally sustainable future."
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