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Date:

May 29, 2003

Subject:

AGBIOVIEW SPECIAL: Peter Raven - The Environmental Challenge

 

The Environmental Challenge

- Peter H. Raven, Presented at the Natural History Museum, London, 22 May
2003 -- sponsored by Sense about Science

(Dr. Peter Raven is the Director of Missouri Botanical Garden in St.
Louis, MO, USA; praven@nas.edu)


It is difficult to comprehend that as recently as 10,000 years, or about
400 human generations, ago, the entire human population of the world
consisted of about the same number of people who visited this museum, The
Natural History Museum in London, last year -- three million people, give
or take.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the product of some two million years of
human evolution, lived at about the density of the aboriginal people in
Australia before the start of Captain Cook's voyages of discovery, and in
about the same way. These several million human beings populated all of
Eurasia, Africa, Australia and the Americas, mostly living in small,
scattered bands. Although they had inherited the use of fire and of
weapons from their ancestors, they had no steady supplies of food, no
villages or towns, and thus no basis for specializing in all of the
wonderful ways that have given rise to the civilization that we enjoy
today in the 21st century. Their ways of managing their lives and their
relationships with one another were necessarily very different from the
ways that will serve us best in a crowded world of 6.3 billion people. It
is not, however, clear that we have learned how to behave under these new
conditions, radically different though they are.

The situation of the human race changed radically with the development of
crop agriculture, and we have never looked back. Plants were domesticated
independently in the Fertile Crescent, in eastern Europe, Africa, India,
China, Mexico, and Peru, and doubtless in a number of additional places,
over a period of several millennia starting about 10,000 years ago. The
ample supplies of food that these early crops provided gave those who
possessed them security, but competition for these stored riches led to
warfare and conquest as well as to the many threads of civilization that
make up our modern world.

Written language was developed by about 5,500 years ago, the Great
Pyramids built about 5,300 years ago, Solomon's temple some 4,000 years
ago, and human history has unfolded to give us the world that we know
today. Human population levels worldwide reached several hundred million
people by the time of Christ, remained grew slowly for more than 1,000
years, and then continued their growth onward, as ecological systems
throughout the world were altered progressively by human activities and
for benefit.

Just over two centuries ago, the Reverend Thomas Malthus made a dire
prediction about the future of humankind: he considered that our numbers
were growing so much more rapidly than our ability to produce additional
food that widespread starvation would be the inevitable result. At the
time Malthus was making this prediction, the human population stood at
about 850 million people; now it amounts to approximately 6.3 billion.
Although tens of millions of people have died of starvation over the
intervening nine generations, famine never reached the apocalyptic levels
that he projected.

The Reverend Malthus was speaking in the early decades of the Industrial
Revolution, a time when first wood and then fossil fuels -- coal, oil,
natural gas -- were employed on what eventually amounted to a gigantic
scale to power the steam engines and other mechanical devices invented
during this period. The amount of arable land worldwide was increased
greatly by the application of powerful plows to previously uncultivated
soils; by the development of irrigation systems on an even larger scale
than had been in place earlier; and by the manufacture of artificial
fertilizers that could be used to enrich soils previously unsuited for
crops.

At very nearly the same time, English and other farmers began modern plant
breeding, hybridizing and selecting improved crops and using them to make
their fields more productive. There had been a great deal of selection
earlier, as becomes so evident for example by turning the pages of
Besler's 1613 herbal, or considering the breeds of dogs -- all derived
from an Asian wolf over the course of approximately 15,000 years.
Although when Malthus spoke, it was to be another century before the
application of Gregor Mendel's findings, together with other basic
relationships discovered during the early 20th century, came together to
provide our first glimpse of the science of genetics, plant breeders,
operating on a statistical and scientific basis to combine genetic
material from difference sources and thus produce improved crops had been
at work for a century by that time, and the results of their labors were
evident in fields throughout the temperate regions of the world.

With the full application of the principles of genetics and of improved
methods of cultivation, and of course by enlisting farmers in forming more
productive agricultural systems, the Green Revolution that has been
described so well by my colleague M.S. Swaminathan came into existence and
saved the lives of many additional hundreds of millions of people during
the second half of the 20th century -- a time when the global population
was growing explosively from 2.5 billion people in 1950 to 6 billion in
2000.

What kind of a job is agriculture doing, and how well fed are people
today? Although poverty is declining steadily in Asia and Latin America,
approximately 1.2 billion people are living on less than $1 per day; and
in sub-Saharan Africa, almost half of the people have an income at or
below this level. About 800 million people in developing countries are
chronically undernourished, a reduction of approximately 40 million since
1990 but still a very large number; and worldwide, the World Health
Organization estimated that about half the population is malnourished for
at least one critical dietary element. From 1970 to 1999, average food
consumption per person increased in all regions, from 2100 to 2700
calories in developing countries, and from 3000 to 3400 calories in
industrialized ones. The world population may become stable at a level of
approximately 9 billion people during the course of this century, but even
that conservative estimate, combined with expectations for more affluence
and consumption everywhere, poses enormous challenges for the world
agricultural system.

In an effort to supply these needs, about 11% of the world's land surface
is used to produce crops, a collective area about the size of South
America, and only limited potential remains for expanding the area of land
under cultivation. Most of the additional gains will be made in South
America and in sub-Saharan Africa, and they will be made only with the
full application of all the tools available to agriculture. At the same
time, about 20% of the arable land in 1950 has been lost subsequently, to
salinization, desertification, urban sprawl, erosion, and other factors,
so that we are feeding 6.3 billion people today on about four-fifths of
the land on which we were feeding 2.5 billion people in 1950, this being
possible though a combination of selection, breeding, improved irrigation
systems, soil conservation, and the judicious application of fertilizers.
Modern agriculture scarcely resembles the agriculture of the 1940s, and
yet it is not adequate, partly for political and social reasons, to feed
all people well.

Beyond the land consigned to crop production, an additional 20% of the
world's land surface is used for the production of animals, very critical
in a world that is increasingly shifting to animal proteins. On this
fifth of the world's land surface, approximately 180 million people are
grazing flocks that collectively amount to 3.3 billion sheep, goats, and
cattle; in almost every case, the lands on which they are being grazed are
being progressively degraded to such an extent that they are unlikely to
be able to maintain their present levels of productivity, much less of
biodiversity, in the future. Therefore, about a third of the total land
surface is used directly for agriculture and grazing, and a great deal
more for forestry, gathering miscellaneous natural products, and other
human activities. Most of the land used for agriculture and grazing,
especially in the tropics and subtropics, is being degraded by these
activities and is therefore becoming less sustainable and productive in
the face of increasing worldwide demand for high-quality food.

In the world as a whole, human beings are estimated to be using, wasting,
or diverting nearly half of the total products of photosynthesis, which is
essentially the sole source of nutrition not only for humans, but for all
of the other organisms on Earth. Thus we, one of an estimated 10 million
or more species, appropriate for ourselves half of the total biological
productivity of our planet, while our numbers, our increasing levels of
affluence (consumption), and our use of inappropriate technologies all
increase our share of the total with every passing year.

In addition, we are consuming more than half of the total renewable
supplies of fresh water in the world, our use of water growing at about
twice the rate of our population growth. Our demands for water are
growing rapidly, while water tables across north China, India, and other
critical, densely populated regions are dropping rapidly. Agriculture
accounts for about 90% of the total water actually consumed for human
purposes (about 70% of the water that we withdraw from natural sources),
and it is not clear how we shall be able to find water for a human
population 50% larger than at present, one with greatly increased demands
for affluence. As it is, about half the human population, some 3.5
billion people, will be living in regions facing severe water shortages by
2025.

In terms of human impact, we can think in terms of the Worldwide Fund for
Nature's Ecological Footprint (EF) measurement, which can be applied to
any human population. In the words of the WWF, a population's EF is the
total area of productive land or sea required to produce all the crops,
meat, seafood, wood and fiber that it consumes, to sustain its energy
consumption and to provide space for its infrastructure. Viewed in these
terms, the Earth has about 11.4 billion hectares of productive land and
sea space. Divided by the current world population of 6.3 billion people,
this amounts to about 1.8 hectares per person.

The actual Ecological Footprint of an individual, however, is very unequal
around the world: 1.3 hectares per person in Africa or Asia, about 5.0
hectares in Western Europe, and about 9.6 hectares in North America. The
world consumer's average EF in 1999 was 2.3 hectares per person, so that
we are about 22% beyond the planet's capacity to support us on a
sustainable basis. We support ourselves, in a world in which 800 million
people receive so little food that their brains cannot develop normally
and their bodies are literally wasting away; three billion people are
malnourished; and 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 per day, by
means of a gigantic and continuing overdraft on the world's capital stocks
of water, fossil energy, topsoil, forests, fisheries and overall
productivity. We use the world, its soils, waters, and atmosphere as a
gigantic dumping ground for pollutants, including the pollutants that
render much surface water unusable, the carbon dioxide that is
contributing directly to global warming and the atmospheric pollution that
kills millions of people around the world annually.

It is estimated that the world's Ecological Footprint was about 70% of the
planet's biological capacity in 1970, reaching 120% by 1999. And our
population growth, demand for increased consumption, and continued use of
inappropriate technologies are rapidly driving the ratio upward,
indicating that we are already managing our planet's resources in an
unsustainable way, much as if we used 30% of the funds available in our
bank account each year with the expectation that they would somehow be
replenished, or because we just didn't care.

We continue to assume that developing countries will somehow reach the
level of the industrialized ones currently, while our good senses should
tell us that that cannot be the case without making extraordinary changes
in our assumptions and in the ways that we live. In fact, Wackernagel and
Rees have estimated that if everyone lived at the standard (rate of
consumption, equivalent technologies) of the industrialized countries, it
would take two planets comparable to the planet Earth to support them,
three more if the population should double, and, if worldwide standards of
living should double over the next 40 years, twelve additional "Earths."
It's simply not going to happen, and we can clearly find our way to a
sustainable future only by achieving a sustainable population, finding a
sustainable level of consumption globally, accepting social justice as the
norm for global development, and finding the improved technologies and
practices that will help us make sustainable development possible.

One of the most serious pressures on the world's long-term sustainability
is the loss of biodiversity. Terrestrial biodiversity -- life on land --
appeared about 440 million years ago, with the nearly contemporary
appearance of the ancestors of land vertebrates, plants, fungi, and
arthropods (insects and their relatives). After billions of years of
earlier life in the seas. A massive extinction event occurred about 65
million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous Period, and, judged from
the fossil record of the time, drove about two-thirds of the terrestrial
species in existence at that time to extinction. After a period of about
ten million years of recovery, species numbers began to rise again to the
estimated 10 million or more eukaryotic species, together with an unknown
number of bacteria, that exist today.

We can estimate the global rate of extinction of plants, animals, fungi,
and microorganisms by comparing species longevity in the fossil record, an
average of one species per million per year becoming extinct, with the
observed extinction rates. Over the past few centuries, extinction rates
for well known groups of organisms such as vascular plants, butterflies,
and vertebrate animals provide a basis for estimating the overall rates.
For example, over the past thousand years in the Pacific, the period of
Polynesian and later European colonization, at least 1,000 species of
birds, approximately a tenth of the world's total, have disappeared
forever. With the estimated destruction of perhaps 95% of the world's
tropical moist forests over the course of the 21st century, it is
projected that as many as two of every three terrestrial species that
exists now may disappear permanently, or be reduced to populations too
small to insure their long-term survival, before the dawn of the 22nd
century.

Striking is the fact that we are likely never to have seen, or to be aware
of, the existence of most of the species we are driving to extinction. In
tropical moist forest, we have catalogued so far probably fewer than one
in twenty of the species present -- which is one reason that the losses
are so tragic. The loss of so many species clearly will have a negative
impact on future human prospects. We derive all of our food; most of our
medicines; a major proportion of our building materials, clothing,
chemical feedstocks; and other useful products from the living world.

In addition, the communities and ecosystems that it comprises protect our
watersheds, stabilize our soils, determine our climates and provide the
insects that pollinate our crops, among many other ecosystem services. In
addition, we are early in the age of molecular discovery, when living
organisms hold much of the promise for the development of currently
unknown sustainable systems in the future. We are, however, losing the
diversity of organisms at an unprecedented rate just as we are staring to
appreciate it, and while knowing only a very small fraction of the species
that exist. And finally, these organisms are simply beautiful, enriching
our lives in many ways and inspiring us every day. By any moral or
ethical standard, we simply do not have the right to destroy them, and yet
we are doing it savagely, relentlessly, and at a rapidly increasing rate,
every day. Many believe, and I agree with them, that we simply do not
have the right to destroy what is such a high proportion of the species on
Earth. They are, as far as we know, our only living companions in the
universe.

Among all human activities, agriculture, grazing, and forestry are the
most destructive of biodiversity, accounting for the exploitative use of
more than half of the world's land surface. As Gordon Conway has pointed
out, the single most promising way to avoid habitat destruction is to
increase farm yields in a process that he has termed "The Doubly Green
Revolution." If we wish to stem the widespread extinction resulting from
these practices, we must learn to make them as productive as possible on
the lands that are being used; otherwise, a relatively unproductive,
unfocused agriculture will lead to the destruction of many more species
and more widely than would be possible if our existing systems were
sustainable and as productive as possible. Surprisingly, relatively
little information is available on the sustainability of different
agricultural systems around the world, and we must have a great deal more
in order to make the best possible choices.

But the overall lesson is clear: agriculture itself is highly destructive
to biodiversity, and deliberately so. We eliminate biological diversity
in order to build agricultural productivity; as agriculture has become
more productive, it has become more uniform and larger-scale, and the
damage to biodiversity has increased proportionately, and deliberately
over the centuries.

In the years following World War II, the application of relatively large
amounts of synthetic pesticides, introduced in 1947, is considered to be
an essential element in productive agricultural systems. Despite
applications at this level, there is an estimated global loss of $244
billion per year, which amounts to 43% of total global production;
pesticides save an estimated further 30% of total production, but have
highly negative environmental consequences.

Rachael Carson's "Silent Spring" (1962) was an early warning of the
ecological problems that accompany the widespread application of such
chemicals, and the warning she sounded has been heeded in several ways.
Integrated Pest Management, involving the introduction of parasitic
insects that would control pest species, is ecologically sound and
thankfully widely applied. Organic farming, collectively an attempt to
lower the inputs to agricultural systems, is not necessarily sustainable,
and does generally lead to a yield reductions as well, judged, for
example, from the long-term studies by the Swiss Research Institution for
Sustainable Agriculture and comparable bodies. Certainly lowering
chemical inputs to agricultural systems is in itself highly desirable, but
productivity must be enhanced if even the huge areas now under cultivation
are to meet human needs. The system of practices followed in organic
agriculture do contribute remarkably to the maintenance of soil fertility
and the reduction of pesticide use, and include many features that are of
importance in the attainment of agricultural sustainability worldwide.

Where do we go from here?

A wide variety of new approaches have been developed that will combine
well to produce the more productive, sustainable agriculture of the
future. What this new agriculture will look like will vary widely from
region to region, and its attainment will require a high degree of
imagination and a willingness to test many possible directions. Organic
agriculture is essentially what is practiced in sub-Saharan Africa today,
and half of the people are starving; so it is clear that more is needed.
To meet the real challenges of the intensive agriculture that has been
deployed widely in the modern world and improve productivity and
sustainability throughout, all available methods, certainly including GM
technology, must be applied where they will be useful.

Taking into account the general purposes of this panel, I now turn to the
subject of the present and future role of GM technology in improving the
productivity and sustainability of agricultural systems. We have heard
about some of these earlier this evening. Here I emphasize the role of
these technologies in achieving reductions in pesticide applications.
Even by the year 2000, the use of GM soybean, oilseed rape (canola),
cotton, and maize had reduced pesticide use by 22.3 million kilograms of
formulated product, and the reductions have gone far beyond that level
subsequently. Worldwide, there are at least 500,000 cases of pesticide
poisoning and 5,000 deaths from this cause annually. In the United States
alone, approximately 110,000 cases of pesticide poisoning are reported
each year, together with an estimated 10,000 cases of pesticide-induced
cancer. Approximately 35% of the foods in supermarkets in the U.S. have
detectable pesticide residues, residues that everyone would like to avoid.
In the agricultural fields of the United States, an estimated 70 million
birds are killed each year by pesticides, along with billions of both
harmful and beneficial insects. Against this background, it is clear that
the huge reductions already achieved constitute a major positive
contribution to the environmental soundness of the agricultural systems in
which these crops are being grown. They provide a major benefit to the
health of consumers wherever they have been employed.

Routine applications of pesticides in Europe are much higher than in the
United States. It has been estimated that if half of the maize, oilseed
rape (canola), sugar beet, and cotton raised in Europe were genetically
modified to resist their pests that there would be a reduction of about
14.5 million kilograms of formulated pesticide product (4.5 million
kilograms of active ingredient). The reduction of 7.5 million hectares of
crops sprayed as a result of growing GM crops would save approximately
20.5 million liters of diesel and prevent the emission of 73,000 tonnes of
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

In the light of these figures, it is obvious that agriculture in Europe
and throughout the world is neither being managed sustainably nor
productively. In order to meet human needs adequately and safely,
agricultural practices need to be improved everywhere. Certainly the use
of Integrated Pest Management and organic agriculture are useful parts of
our striving towards the creation of productive, sustainable agricultural
systems, but the application of modern plant breeding methods through GM
technology clearly have significant contributions to make also. Why are
these methods viewed with such skepticism, when the gains following their
widespread use are so evident, and their promise for much greater
contributions so great?

Other recent problems with food safety have contributed to the widespread
public perception that foods produced as a result of GM technology may
somehow be unsafe in principle. In fact, no scientific theory exists as
to why this should be so. Despite the fact that such foods have been
consumed in large quantities for many years, not a single case of sickness
has been attributed to them. Many of our medicines, virtually all of our
cheeses, much of our beer, and in many regions, a large proportion of the
other foods consumed have been produced as a result of the application of
GM technology, so that billions of people have been consuming them or
injecting them into their bodies for many years: not a single case of
sickness has resulted, and there is absolutely no scientific reason that
it should be expected.

If there were some reason that GM technology was dangerous in itself,
people presumably would fear their doses of insulin, interferon, or other
drugs regardless of how helpful they might be. But there is no such
reason. In consideration of the facts, many learned bodies, including the
Royal Society and the academies of sciences of many other countries,
including the United States, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, the Third World
Academy of Sciences, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, have,
considering the evidence, pointed out consistently over the years that
there is no scientific basis for considering such foods unsafe for human
consumption. Concerning food safety, it is time to stop dealing with
phantoms and address reality for the benefit of human beings generally.

Why then does a general ban on the import of some GM foods exist in
Europe? With no scientific reasoning presented in support of such a ban,
it is clear that the reasons for maintaining it are emotional, personal,
and political. Although some of these reasons are understandable, the ban
is certainly not justifiable scientifically. It is therefore welcome that
earlier this month, with the U.S. on the verge of filing a WTO complaint
against the EU, that EU commissioner David Byrne, who is in charge for
food safety for the Union, emphasized that strong steps were being taken
to end the moratorium. The major drop in research in this area in Europe
over the past five years both threatens to deprive the world of beneficial
applications of European science to improved crop production and also
poses an economic threat to the continent's future development.
Undoubtedly the unsubstantiated idea that GM foods might in principle be
harmful to human health have contributed to this malaise.

In the area of plant breeding, it is important to emphasize that when
modern methods are used to study to production of individual
characteristics in relation to the genes that are involved in them, the
knowledge obtained can be applied to the improvement of crops all over the
world, regardless of the commercial benefit obtained. It is general
knowledge, of great common value. In contrast, in traditional plant
breeding, only the specific crop involved is improved, and no general
principles or specific facts are gained that can be used for less
profitable crops that may be essential to the livelihoods of hundreds of
millions of people in developing countries.

At the M.S. Swaminathan Research Institute in Chennai, India, for example,
scientists for many years have be transferring genes for salt resistance
from mangroves to rice in order to produce new strains of rice that can
resist the brackish water infiltrating the coasts of India and still
remain productive. These genes can in principle be used to improve the
salt resistance of any crop, anywhere, and will be made available for that
purpose.

Whatever policy might be adopted for Europe, persuading governments
responsible for the lives of hundreds of thousands of starving people in
Africa to forego food aid on the basis of politically or economically
motivated disinformation seems to me to constitute a serious crime against
humanity. I maintain that those responsible for the misinformation bear a
serious responsibility for the lives of the people who are dying, and urge
the world as a whole to return to rationality in dealing with this
humanitarian crisis.

For some who live in industrialized countries to accept medicines produced
through GM technologies because them seem necessary for them and at the
same time to deny foods produced in a similar way to starving Africans
seems to me to pose a moral dilemma that deserves more serious
consideration. As Per Pinstrup-Anderson has pointed out, to a mother in
a famine-struck region in Africa, the disease she and her children suffer
from is hunger and the medicine is food. He then went on to point out
that the world's poor spend 60 to 80 percent of their incomes on food, and
there often isn't enough to alleviate starvation. So Europe's strong stand
against GM crops, which has the potential to make more food available, may
seem ill-advised to hungry people in developing countries who need food
and not unsupported arguments about why it might not be safe. Serious
discussions of the appearance of large-scale agriculture, the
corporatization of food systems, or the globalization of trade are clearly
necessary, but it is not GM crops that are driving these trends, which
they are sometimes used to represent.

Last month, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), one of America's most
venerable and respected civil rights groups, confronted Greenpeace at a
public event and accused it of "eco-manslaughter" through its support of
international policies limiting development and the expansion of
technology to the developing world's poor. "But well-fed eco-fanatics
shriek 'Frankenfoods' and 'genetic pollution,' " CORE said in a statement
announcing their intention to confront Greenpeace. "They threaten
sanctions on nations that dare to grow genetically modified crops, to feed
their people or replace crops that have been wiped out by insects and
blights. They plan to spend $175 million battling biotech foods over the
next five years. Not a penny of this money will go to the starving poor."

Apart from food safety, the fears concerning the cultivation of GM crops
are primarily environmental. Clearly, transgenes, like all the other
genes that they possess, move regularly from crops to any wild or weedy
relatives that may be growing in the vicinity of the cultivated fields.
This process has been changing the characteristics of crops and their wild
and weedy relatives since the beginnings of agriculture, and is in fact a
major feature of plant evolution generally. For some crops, as maize and
cotton in Europe, there are no wild or weedy relatives, and consequently
no danger of any genes spreading. For others, such as oilseed rape
(canola) and sugar beets in Europe, the consequences of any genes moving
into weedy populations, or genes moving from the weeds into the crops,
should be taken into account.

How would the role of the genetically modified weeds or wild plants differ
from that of their unaltered relatives in agricultural systems or in
nature, and would that constitute a problem? Are some of them likely to
become weeds? Again, there is nothing intrinsic about the characteristics
of the GM process itself that poses a threat. In the hands of those who
wish to cripple the application of scientific techniques to the solution
of human problems around the world, "gene transfer" has become a threat in
itself, and so emphasized as such that people have not paused to ask "What
is that threat?"

In conserving biodiversity throughout the world, we must improve the
productivity and sustainability of all human activities, especially
including agriculture. Nothing has driven more species to extinction or
caused more instability to the world's ecological systems than the
development of an agriculture sufficient to feed 6.3 billion people. The
less focused and productive this agriculture is, the more destructive its
effects will be. Measures of sustainability must be introduced widely to
complement those of productivity, and forms of agriculture appropriate for
individual regions must be designed and implemented. Drought and stress
resistance, lowered inputs of all kinds, improved productivity, and
improved characteristics of the resulting foods must all be stressed in
developing a wide variety of sound agricultural systems.

Rational approaches to this field should lead gradually to the acceptance
of GM and other technologies and to their widespread use to help solve the
many problems of agriculture. All parts of the process of acceptance by
the public need to be transparent and verifiable, with questions addressed
as they arise; only by a rigorous process of disclosure and investigation
will a majority of people ever be comfortable with any new kind of
technology.

New public sector efforts are needed to benefit poor farmers in developing
countries, where in general neither the most important crops nor the
conditions of cultivation have been the subject of much international
effort. Whatever approaches might be taken to the development of these
agricultural systems, the precise modification of the organisms in them by
modern genetic techniques seems a rational way to move toward the desired
outcomes. To assert that GM techniques are a threat to biodiversity is to
state the exact opposite of the truth. They and other methods and
techniques must be used, and used aggressively, to help build sustainable
and productive, low-input agricultural systems in many different
agricultural zones around the world. Properly applied, they will provide
major assistance for the preservation of biodiversity, and to the
productivity and sustainability of ecosystems everywhere. They are, and
will remain, an essential ingredient in building global sustainability.

In a fundamental sense, however, the only way to build a sustainable world
is to change both that world and our way of thinking about it. A new
industrial revolution and a new agriculture are clearly required to attain
this goal. Population, overconsumption, and the use of appropriate
technologies must all be brought into the equation to achieve it. Social
justice must be extended to people everywhere, and their right to
security, which underlies their ability to contribute to the formation of
a world that will support both their children and ours, must be nurtured
and expanded. In the words of Kai Lee, we must continue to engage in a
"search for a life good enough to warrant our comforts."