First, the good news: The world has made some progress on its climate goals! Or, as the headline of the U.N.’s press release about the fifth edition of its Global Environmental Outlook puts it: World Remains on Unsustainable Track Despite Hundreds of Internationally Agreed Goals and Objectives.
- Air pollution indoors and outdoors is probably causing more than 6 million premature deaths each year.
- Greenhouse gas emissions are on track to warm the world by at least 3 degrees C on average by 2100.
- Most river basins contain places where drinking water standards are below World Health Organization standards.
- Only 1.6 percent of the world’s oceans are protected.
Six million premature deaths a year. Basically one of every 1,100 people will die prematurely this year from air pollution. And as the world is getting hotter, drinkable water often remains elusive. In summary:
“If current trends continue, if current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and ‘decoupled’, then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
That sounds bad.
The full report is available here, in all sorts of somber shades of tan and brown. It’s as though they went to a graphic designer and said, “Hey, give me the Mad Max” — which is, I suppose, apt.