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Saturday, October 27, 2007

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The recently published UN report GEO4 giving a comprehensive report on the environmental state of the planet is a powerful document running to over 500 pages and packed with charts and detailed accounts of the four most important natural services we all depend on for our survival. So there are sections titled "State- and- Trends of the Environment from 1987 to 2007" for the Atmosphere, Land, Water and Biodiversity.
To find out more about the UNEP and the GEO4 Report click here.

On the UNEP home page are links to Web Animations for a number of Environmental issues which are I think well done and can be useful in clarifying what is at stake in for instance "Loss of Biodiversity".

Apart from the mass of data in the report there are short summary statements for each section which are reproduced below.

Section A Overview.

“The ‘environment’ is where we live; and

development is what we all do in attempting

to improve our lot within that abode.

The two are inseparable.”

Our Common Future

Section B State-and-Trend of the Environment: 1987-2007.

Climate change affects the warming and

acidification of the global ocean, it influences

the Earth’s surface temperature, the amount,

timing and intensity of precipitation,

including storms and droughts. On land,

these changes affect freshwater availability

and quality, surface water run-off and

groundwater recharge, and the spread of

water-borne disease vectors and it is likely

to play an increasing role in driving changes

in biodiversity and species’ distribution and

relative abundance.

Section C Regional Perspectives: 1987-2007.

Continued environmental degradation in

all regions is unfairly shifting burdens onto

future generations, and contradicts the

principle of intergenerational equity.

Section D Human Dimensions of Environmental Change.

Many people, individually and

collectively, contribute, often

inadvertently, to the suffering of

others while improving their own

well-being. This can result from

environmental changes which are

linked across scales and between

geographical regions through both

biophysical and social processes.

Section E The Outlook- Towards 2015 and Beyond.

The scenarios point to both risks and

opportunities in the future. Of particular

significance are the risks of crossing

thresholds, the potential of reaching turning

points in the relationship between people

and the environment, and the need to

account for interlinkages in pursuing a

more sustainable path.

Section F Sustaining Our Common Future.

While governments are expected to take the

lead, other stakeholders are just as important

to ensure success in achieving sustainable

development. The need couldn’t be more

urgent and the time couldn’t be more

opportune, with our enhanced understanding

of the challenges we face, to act now to

safeguard our own survival and that of

future generations.

Extracts from UNEP report GEO4.

"Global Environment Outlook October 2007"