Read the text and discuss the questions

What kind of a world do you live?

What are consequences of the ecological systems breakdown that support life on Earth?

Are there any ways to improve the situation?

Is the world population increasing a serious problem?

The state of the environment is extremely serious. In spite of improvements in certain areas, the situation as a whole is continuing to deteriorate. It would be irresponsible to delay drastic measures any longer.

Radical decisions, which will affect everyone, are unavoidable. Not only the improvement of environmental quality, but also the very survival of mankind is at stake. Unless we set a different course quickly and resolutely, we are heading for an environmental catastrophe. The only way to avoid it, is to lay a basis now for sustainable development.

Today more than 5,6 billion people are using (and are often abusing) the Earth's natural resources. In every corner of the world people are cutting forests, digging out minerals and energy supplies, eroding earth, polluting the air and water, creating dangerous waste, and destroying natural areas faster than ever before in the history, of life on Earth. It is becoming impossible to escape the results of serious environmental damage: species extinction, spreading deserts, pesticide poisoning, increasing public health problems, poverty, starvation and death. Many experts think that we will soon begin to see a breakdown of the ecological systems that support life on Earth.

Around the world, people first started thinking seriously about environmental problems, in the 1970's. Since that time many governments have made laws to protect the environment, but still, problems have got worse in many parts of the world.

Environmental regulation has grown in direct propotion to environmental awareness. There has been an explosion of international treaties and protocols, European laws and domestic legislation concerned with the environment. But regulation is no good without enforcement. It is efficacy of the enforcement mechanisms which proves the value of the regulation.

This problem can be resolved at national level by funding enforcment agencies and ensuring they have adequate resources to function effectively within a socially acceptable prosecution framework. Yet, even at this level, problems can arise where a set of laws are new, little understood and perceived as economically disadventageous by the revelant industry. Seldom do intenational trearies have the force of law in the same way as national laws. Laking enforcement mechanisms and an effective forum for dispute resolution, they epend haevily on the consensus and goodwill of the participating countries. Yet, it is trite to state that pollution does not recognise national boundaries. From a geografical and a political perspective, there is a need for an effective world court for the environment and a woald policing agency given the nature of pollution and the economic organisation of the corporations which dominate global trade.

The agricultural and industrial revolution of the last hundred years has caused the world population to increase by over ten times. If it continues to grow at the present rate, the population will double in about 40 years. How many people can the Earth support life for? Some experts believe the world is already overpopulated, other scientists say the Earth can provide a very simple life for about 20 billion people. But that would require farming all land and everyone existing on a diet of only grain.

Although developed countries have a small part of the world's population, they use far more energy and resources than developing countries. This large amount of resource use results in a mere comfortable life style. A person living in a developed country uses in six months the resources that have to last a person living in a developing country his whole lifetime. Many former socialist countries like Ukraine also use large amounts of energy and resources, but their level of life comfort is not very high because of a very wasteful economy. A new model of social development is needed to avoid a crisis. This model is called sustainable development in which natural resources are not used faster than they can be regenerated by the Earth. Here are several changes that are necessary to make our society more sustainable: slow the world population growth, reduce the waste of resources, reduce the amount of pollution recycle and reuse resources, and use more renewable energy sources like sun, wind and water.

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