November 5, 2010

Future Wealth, Happiness Tied To Global Warming, Climate

The globalization of the consumer society and global warming are quickly becoming the two biggest threats to future wealth and happiness, according to the United Nations.

The UN's annual Human Development Report said wealthy countries "need to blaze the trail" on making economic growth less dependent on fossil fuels and helping underdeveloped nations reach sustainable development.

Bringing up last year's failed Copenhagen climate summit, the report called for international commitment at the upcoming climate talks in Cancun, Mexico next month "if we are to face up to what may be the most serious threat the world has ever faced."

The report states that the majority of the world has become wealthier, healthier and better educated over the past 20 years that the study -- "The Real Wealth of Nations" -- has been released.

Although, "The main threat to maintaining progress in human development comes from the increasingly evident unsustainability of production and consumption patterns," it added.

Drought, deluges and environmental stressors are major obstacles to "realizing people's aspirations," said the report.

With the global population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, and with incomes rising, pressure on energy and fuel sources will also grow, it said. "Climate change may be the single factor that makes the future very different, impeding the continuing progress in human development that history would lead us to expect."

One estimate released by the report states that wheat prices could double, which would have "massive repercussions" for the world. Per capita consumption of cereals could fall by 20 percent by 2050 leaving more than 25 million additional children malnourished around the world.

With the international financial crisis still being felt, "the continuing reliance on fossil fuels is threatening irreparable damage to our environment and to the human development of future generations," said the report.

"These developments pose serious questions about the long run feasibility of the world's current production and consumption patterns," it said.


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