Why we are failing to protect the global environment. What we canand mustdo to succeed.
In the past two decades, the world’s population has grown by thirty-five per cent, energy use by forty per cent, and automobile production by forty-five per cent. The level of carbon dioxide in the air is the highest it has been in nearly half a million years—and CO2 emissions are projected to climb sixty per cent by 2025. Laying out the grim facts, Speth, who was an adviser to Presidents Carter and Clinton, and is the dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, sounds almost nostalgic for the days when the environmental crisis was all about aerosol sprays, factory smokestacks, and PCBs in the riverbed. Today, as he stresses, the crisis is global. But, rather than wait for grand international treaties, Speth thinks that individuals, N.G.O.s, corporations, and other groups ought to start their own initiatives to protect the environment and prevent an irreversible shift in climate. Forty years after “Silent Spring,” we may be facing a long, hot summer.