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David Bellamy, Naturalist, England, UK
The tension between high and rising consumption and decreasing resources is likely to become the key environmental problem in the next century. The pressure of poor people on resources is often highlighted but the rich consume more: their food, houses, clothes, cars, lifestyles are all resource intensive. We will need fairer access to resources and that will mean placing curbs on how much the rich consume.
Sir Shridath Ramphal, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Guyana
Mindless growth should be considered guilty until proven innocent. Do we need it? Can we afford it?
David Brower, Earth Island Institute, USA
My concerns are chiefly - • The impact of micro-pollutants on human health in ways that we cannot possibly predict. • Genetic engineering, both for agricultural and environmental reasons. We are likely to be swamped by the genetics revolution. We totally lack the moral and ethical values and institutions to judge the benefits of all the new products and technologies. • Bio-terrorism: unscrupulous terrorist organisations may get more sophisticated in their use of biological weapons. • Ever larger numbers of young people in both developed and developing worlds will end up with no gainful purpose in life or means of earning a livelihood.
Jonathon Porritt, Programme Director, Forum for the Future, England, UK
Deterioration of the environment and global resources in combination with growing disparities between the rich and poor are going to force us to change our way of life. We may be able to party on for another half century or so, but I’m afraid that our societies will then be thrown into disrepair. Our situation right now is rather like that of a man who jumps off the Empire State Building and, as he passes the 9th floor window, smiles and waves, saying, ‘So far so good!’ Very soon, we are going to hit the limits of the Earth's carrying capacity, and when that issue emerges, it will hurt us all.
Herman Verheij, Policy Advisor, Ministry of Environment, the Netherlands