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Earth's Vital Signs are Weak

There's lots of talk about going green but we are falling short on taking action. The Worldwatch Institute recently published its 176-page report Vital Signs 2007-2008 on energy consumption and the state of the world. This independent research tracked 44 worldwide trends in the areas of food, agricultural resources, energy and climate, global economy, resource economics, environment, conflict and peace, communications and transportation. The results were disturbing.

Record breaking consumption

Consumption of energy and other critical resources is at an all time high and the largest polluter is the U.S., which accounts for 21 percent of global carbon emission in 2005.

"The world is running out of time to head off catastrophic climate change, and it is essential that Europe and the rest of the international community bring pressure to bear on U.S. policy makers to address the climate crisis. The United States must be held accountable for its emissions, double the per capita level in Europe, and should follow the EU lead by committing to reducing its total greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050." said Erik Assadourian, at the Barcelona launch of Vital Signs.

Telling facts

Vital Signs warns that as human population hits 6.6 billion, we are seeing record levels of consumption:

In 2006, the world used 3.9 billion tons of oil. Fossil fuel usage in 2005 produced 7.6 billion tons of carbon emissions, and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 380 parts per million. More wood was removed from forests in 2005 than ever before.Steel production grew 10 percent to a record 1.24 billion tons in 2006, while primary aluminium output increased to a record 33 million tons. Aluminium production accounted for roughly 3 percent of global electricity use. Meat production hit a record 276 million tons (43 kg per person) in 2006.

Meat consumption is one of several factors driving soybean demand. Rapid South American expansion of soybean plantations could displace 22 million hectares of tropical forest and savanna in the next 20 years. The rise in global seafood consumption comes even as many fish species become scarcer: in 2004, 156 million tons of seafood was eaten, an average of three times as much seafood per person than in 1950.

Time running out

The window of opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change is closing quickly. Both China and India have exploding levels of carbon emissions but neither will agree to any climate control until the U.S. has started the initiative. "With the U.S. Congress preparing to take up far-ranging climate legislation this fall, and with President Bush planning to hold an international climate change summit in Washington, now is the time to act. If the U.S. and other nations walk away without concrete plans to implement a binding agreement, the EU should not hesitate to use its diplomatic clout to press the issue,: suggested Assadourian.

Montana will lose all the glaciers in Glacier National Park by 2070 if their retreat continues at the current rate.

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