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UN Report - Water Wars
The Daily Telegraph, September 16,1999

It is already too late to stop the first stages of global warming, the destruction of thousands of the world's species or prevent shortages of water across Africa and Asia that could provoke wars over the next 25 years, the UN claimed yesterday. A wasteful consumer society in rich countries, coupled with rapid population growth in poor ones, is threatening to destroy the natural resources on which human life is based, according to a report by the UN Environment Programme. UNEP, described as the world's environmental conscience by its director, former German environment minister Klaus Topfer, predicted in its report on the state of the planet at the Millenium that the time to tackle major problems was fast running out and in some aspects it was already too late. Dr Topfer said it was likely that many countries would fail to meet the targets for preventing man-made climate changes set at Kyoto two years ago, dooming the world to an average tempurature rise of up to 3C during the next century. Dr Topfer added: "I am not being pessimistic, just realistic." According to the report the USA, the worlds largest emmitter of carbon dioxide, has refused to ratify the Kyoto treaty.

GEO 2000, The Global Environment Outlook report, have stated that 'full-scale emergencies' now exist as a result of water shortages, land degredation, tropical forest destruction, species extinction, overfishing and urban air pollution in the developing world's mega cities. ... Dr Topfer said there had been an increased frequency and severity of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, now killing and injuring many millions of people every year and causing mounting economic losses. He said it was impossible to say that Hurricane Floyd was a result of global warming, but that it was consistant with the increase in extreme weather conditions which was the signature of global warming. He pointed to other phenomena which had appeared since the last UNEP report two years ago, such as more and larger forest fires, caused by El Nino, and slash-and-burn techniques which made forests more susceptable to major conflagrations. Dr Topfer called for 'inspired political leadership and intense co-operation' in existing and new environmental treaties. But he conceded that as far as the UN was concearned it was 'too weak' in a lot of areas.

Time is Running out for the Environment, UN Says
Reuters, September 21, 1999

It is now too late to halt global warming and time is fast running out to prevent other environmental catastrophes, the U.N.'s environment agency said in a major report on Tuesday. Global Environment Outlook 2000 paints a devastating picture of the Earth's health on the eve of the new millennium, and points to new threats, such as increased levels of nitrogen in the water supply, which the world has not yet started to tackle. "The gains made by better management and technology are still being outpaced by the environmental impacts of population and economic growth. We are on an unsustainable course," Klaus Toepfer, head of the United Nations Environment Programme said at the African launch of the report in Nairobi. The report says emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming have quadrupled since the 1950s, and "binding" targets to reduce emissions agreed by governments at last year's Kyoto summit may not be met. ...

Disasters such as hurricanes and forest fires are increasing in frequency and severity and have killed some three million people in the last three decades. Armed conflicts and unprecedented refugee flows are causing greater damage to the environment than ever before. There is also mounting evidence that humans are seriously destabilising the global nitrogen balance. Huge amounts of nitrogen are being deposited on land and in water through intensive agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels. Eventually, this could make freshwater supplies unfit for human consumption, the report says. "The full extent of the damage is only now becoming apparent as we begin to piece together a comprehensive overview of the extremely complex, interconnected web that is our life support system," said Toepfer, a former German environment minister.