State of the World 2001

By Nancy Steinbach

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

The American research organization Worldwatch Institute has released its yearly environment report, "State of the World Two-Thousand One".

The organization says the environmental condition of the world today is dangerous. It says the Earth is showing signs of increased environmental problems as political leaders fail to protect its resources.

The Institute's researchers say that some of the planet's important environmental systems have been harmed, including forests, wetlands, and Arctic ice. The damage to environmental systems has made the effects more severe of natural disasters such floods, storms, fires and earthquakes. Natural disasters have cost more than six-hundred-thousand-million dollars during the past ten years.

The report says the Earth's temperatures could increase as much as six degrees above the Nineteen-Ninety level by the year Two-Thousand-One-Hundred. This could lead to dangerous water shortages and loss of food production. Higher temperatures could lead to the spread of deadly diseases such malaria and dengue fever found in warm climates.

The report also discusses how environmental problems are affecting people. More than one-thousand-million people do not have clean water. Hundreds of millions breathe unhealthy air. And the growing population means many people are forced to settle in areas where they are at risk of experiencing severe storms and other disasters.

The Institute researchers did note some signs of progress in the past year. These include a treaty to restrict the use of 12 pollutants that more than one-hundred-twenty countries agreed to in December. Another sign of progress is Iceland's effort to produce hydrogen to be used as fuel for cars and fishing boats. Another hopeful sign is the increase around the world in organic farming, which does not use chemicals.

The Worldwatch Institute report says failure to enforce existing environmental agreements is slowing progress. It calls for stronger enforcement of treaties, and increased cooperation among nations. The researchers say political leaders must decide if they will act to build a healthy world, or permit dangerous environmental conditions to continue damaging the Earth.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Nancy Steinbach.

Voice of America Special English