"An Environmental Revolution"
HOLD FOR RELEASE
February 25, 1999
12 PM Noon EST
WORLD MAY BE ON EDGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL REVOLUTION
As we approach the new millennium, there are growing signs that the world
be on the edge of an environmental revolution comparable to the political
revolution that swept Eastern Europe, reports Lester Brown, president of
Worldwatch Institute, in an article in the March/April issue of World
The social revolution in Eastern Europe led to a restructuring of the
political systems. This global revolution could lead to an environmentally
driven restructuring of the global economy.
"Not all environmentalists will agree with me," said author Lester Brown,
I believe that there are now some clear signs that the world is in the
stages of a major shift in environmental consciousness. What is not clear
me is whether we will cross this threshold in time to avoid the disruption
global economic progress."
Across a spectrum of activities, places, and institutions, the atmosphere
changed markedly in just the last two years. The CEOs of some prominent
corporations are now beginning to sound like spokespeople for Greenpeace.
political leaders are adopting policies long championed by ecologists. And
literally thousands of environmental NGOs have sprung up around the world,
mobilizing millions of people for change.
For many who track environmental trends, such as collapsing fisheries,
shrinking forests, rising temperatures, and the wholesale loss of plant and
animal species, it has been clear for some time that economic progress can
sustained only if the economy is restructured so that its natural support
systems can be protected.
For those not already convinced of the need to replace the Western, fossil-
fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy with an economy that
be environmentally sustainable, what is happening as China modernizes
compelling new evidence. For example, a car in every garage in China,
style, would not only deprive China of scarce cropland, but would also
China's oil consumption to some 80 million barrels a day, well above the
current world production of 67 million barrels per day.
"If the western industrial development model will not work for China, it
not work for India, whose population will reach 1 billion later this year,
for the other 2 billion people in the developing world," said Brown. "And
an integrated global economy, it will not work over the long term for the
industrial countries either."
Brown argues that there is an exciting alternative economic model that
promises a better life everywhere without destroying the earth's natural
support systems. The new economy will be powered not by fossil fuels, but
various sources of solar energy and hydrogen. Urban transportation systems
will be centered not around the car, but around high-tech light rail
augmented by bicycles and walking. Instead of a throwaway economy, we will
have a reuse/recycle economy.
"Twenty years ago when we first outlined this new model at the Institute,
was seen as pie-in-the-sky," said Brown. "Now that view is changing both
because it is becoming clear that the old model won't work and also because
can see the broad outline of the environmentally sustainable economic model
Nowhere is the new model more visible than in the energy sector. While oil
coal use have expanded by just over 1 percent a year since 1990, the use of
solar cells has expanded by 16 percent per year and wind power by a
annual rate of 26 percent. Wind power already supplies 8 percent of
electricity and 15 percent of the electricity for Schleswig-Holstein, the
northernmost state of Germany. In Spain's northern state of Navarra, it has
gone from 0 to 23 percent in just three years. Worldwide, the wind power
potential is several times that of hydropower, which now supplies just over
one fifth of the world's electricity. A new Japanese solar roofing material
promises to revolutionize the electrical generating industry. In Germany,
100,000 roofs program launched in December of 1998 by the new coalition
government is leading to a joint investment by Shell Oil/Pilkington in a
cell manufacturing facility that will be the world's largest.
The more enterprising corporate CEOs are beginning to see this economic
restructuring as the greatest investment opportunity in history. In a
on February 9, Mike R. Bowlin, Chairman and CEO of ARCO, a major oil
described the beginning of "the last days of the age of oil" and the
of the new hydrogen-based energy economy. He sees ARCO's large holdings of
natural gas playing a key role in the transition from a carbon-based energy
economy to one based on hydrogen. Within the last two years, British
has committed $1 billion to the development of wind and solar energy and
Dutch Shell has announced a $500 million investment in renewable energy
Governments, too, are changing. Denmark has banned the construction of
fired power plants. Costa Rica plans to get all its electricity from
sources by 2010. In mid-August 1998, after several weeks of near-record
flooding in the Yangtze River basin, Premier Zhu Rongji ordered a halt to
cutting in the upper basin, arguing that trees standing are worth three
as much as those cut.
If we are indeed approaching a social threshold on the environment that
lead to a rapid restructuring of the economy, will it come soon enough? Is
too late to save the Aral Sea? Yes, its fish are gone. Is it too late to
Indonesia's rain forests? Probably. Is it too late to avoid global warming?
Apparently. The Earth's average temperature now appears to be rising. Can
ameliorate future temperature rises? Yes. Can we move fast enough to
environmental deterioration from disrupting the global economy? Probably.
only if we cross the threshold soon.
"No challenge in the new century looms greater than that of transforming
economy into one that is environmentally sustainable," said Brown. "This
Environmental Revolution is comparable in scale to the Agricultural
and the Industrial Revolution. The big difference is in the time available.
The Agricultural Revolution was spread over thousands of years. The
Revolution has been underway for two centuries. The Environmental
if it succeeds, will be compressed into a few decades."
Brown writes that archeologists have uncovered the sites of earlier
civilizations that moved onto economic paths that were environmentally
destructive and could not make the needed course corrections either because
they did not understand what was happening or could not summon the needed
"We do know what is happening," said Brown. "The question for us is whether
our global society can cross the social threshold that will enable us to
restructure the global economy before environmental deterioration leads to
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> Temakor: Temetkezes -Varosok - Parlagfu
> 500 ezer fo korul van. Es akkor tanultuk, hogy hogyan kene kineznie egy
> esetleges fenntarthato varosnak.
Esetleg falu jelleg nem lenne megfelelobb ?
Kozossegek kellenenek, akik ismerik egymast, szamithatnak
egymasra. Ne csupa idegennel legyen korulveve az ember.
Megeshet nem a m2-ek szamitanak csupan, hanem amint kiteszed a labod
az ajton kiket latsz magad korul ? Az emberi tenyezo fontos.
> > Istenem... mar a sirhelyektol is sajnalnunk kell a helyet?... Ugyan
> > mi elol foglalja a teruletet? Ujabb lakasok, gyarak, autok es szamukra
> > utak?
Igy van, regen a varosok, falvak szelen voltak a temetok,
ma gyakorta benotte, korulvette oket a varos. Igy olyan helyen vannak,
amely nem a legparaktikusabbak a temetkezes celjara.
> A megxunes utan pedig mar nem lesz hol megemlekeznunk szeretteinktol.
> Ha viszont alkalmas megoldast talalunk temetkezesre, akkor szeretteinknek
> nem csak az emlekezetunkben tudunk megjelenni. (Hat ezt nem fogalmaztam
> meg vmi jol, passz.)
A kinaiak peldaul otthon tartjak (?) a szeretteik hamvait. Ez is egy
megoldas a megszunes ellen. Nekunk fura ? Megeshet.
> > Nekem olyba tunik a bunossege, szerepe a kornyezetszennyezesben, mint a
> > parlagfue az allergia jelensegenek kezeleseben, megiteleseben.
> > Koszi: o"szapo'
Oszinten megvallom, ezt a parlagfu dolgot ilyen formaban nem ertem,
szerinted a parlagfu nem okoz semmit ? A felszaporodasat az
ember idezte elo.
Attilasz (Szeleczki Attila)