II. The challenges we face - Threats to the Environment
12. Thousands of different species of animals and plants have been made
extinct. It is already clear that irreparable damage has been inflicted
on nature by humanity. In the last 20 years, scientific reports have persistently
warned about the ecologically damaging consequences of the industry and
agriculture of technological society.
13. The energy problems present huge difficulties. Rich countries in
the North face the need to change energy consumption patterns. The greenhouse
effect and damage to the ozone layer require urgent, co-ordinated international
measures. We are uncertain how to regulate problematic scientific developments
such as genetic engineering. Accidents and catastrophes like Chernobyl,
Bhopal and the pollution of the Rhine (Schweizerhalle) have shocked people
into awareness of threats to the environment. Dying trees and woods, poisoned
rivers and seas provide visible evidence of pollution which crosses national
boundaries by water and air. Environmental problems cannot be solved by
governments on a national level. An international ecological order is required.