Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise has been watching the climate world since 2009. What she sees isn't pretty.

Distressed Planet, 1990 – 2013

Back in 1990, the head of the UN said our planet was ailing. Fast forward a quarter of a century, and a Worldwatch Institute press release issued today continues the ‘planet in distress’ meme.

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United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar…called for “a new vision, a new loyalty to Earth patriotism, as strong as any national patriotism, to relieve this distress of our ailing planet.”

– September 1990, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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“The road to the future leads us smack into the wall,” [Jacques] Cousteau wrote…”Our survival is no more than a question of 25, 50 or perhaps 100 years.”

– July 1997, The Nation, subtitle: Explorer’s memoirs send distress signal on planet

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“Our economic systems and theories are programmed to squeeze ever more resources from a planet in distress,” said Michael Renner, Worldwatch senior researcher and director of the Vital Signs project. “A mixture of population growth, consumerism, greed, and short-term thinking…seems to be inexorably driving human civilization toward a showdown with the planet’s limits.”

– July 2013, Worldwatch Institute press release issued today

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Environmental activists really are the ultimate recyclers. In 1990, the date of the first quote, I was in my late twenties. The head of the UN was insisting then, nearly a quarter of a century ago, that the planet was in distress.

As environmentalists do today, Werner Fornos – the president of the Population Institute – was using war metaphors. And, as also happens today, some people believed an expansion of UN powers was necessary to save us from “ecological holocaust”:

The environmental challenges the world faces today…require the response of the moral equivalent of war. Global war. The environmental destiny of the world must become a matter of highest priority. The United Nations General Assembly must charge the security council with the responsibility of guaranteeing environmental protection across national borders. The sooner this is done, the better our chances are to avoid having the 21st century become the era of ecological holocaust. [bold added, see the end of the article]

So here’s my own message to young people currently in their twenties:

Pay no attention to the doomsayers. Drama queen personality types will always be with us. It’s up to you to treat them like the broken records they are.

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