An uphill task

"too small, too slow, or too poorly rooted.' This is how the recently released 19th annual edition of Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2002 report describes the steps taken in the 1990s for an ecologically resilient world. Considering the dismal scenario, the document recommends "a global war on poverty and environmental degradation that is as aggressive and well funded as the war on terrorism'.

Dedicating the report to issues central to the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development set for Johannesburg, South Africa, from August 26 through September 4, 2002, it highlights both the environmental and health milestones achieved during the post-Rio summit and the problems that still haunt humanity.

It states that in the last 10 years, deaths from pneumonia, diarrhoea, and tuberculosis have declined, and the production of ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (cfcs) in industrial countries has been phased out. However, deaths from aids have increased more than six-fold, global emissions of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide have gone up by more than nine per cent and 27 per cent of the world's coral reefs are now severely damaged (up from 10 per cent at the time of the Rio Earth Summit). Worldwatch president Christopher Flavin says, "Ten years after Rio summit, we are still far from ending the economic and environmental marginalisation that afflict the billions of people. Despite the prosperity of the 1990s, the divide between the rich and poor is widening in many countries, undermining social and economic stability. And pressures on the world's natural systems