Planet headed for irreversible damage

U.N. report warns of unprecedented environmental degradation

The United Nations warned of irreversible damage to the planet in its fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) report, which was released two weeks prior to the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil.

The summit, which will be held June 20-22 and is expected to draw 50,000 participants, including environmentalists, scientists, and representatives of governments and companies, will focus on the U.N. Environmental Program’s three-year review of the planet’s health, according to The Christian Science Monitor. The report found that significant progress has been made in only four of the 90 most important worldwide environmental goals—eliminating ozone-depleting substances, phasing out lead in gasoline, increasing access to water and research into marine pollutants.

Population growth, urbanization and natural resource consumption are pushing the planet past a tipping point that will cause a “planetary-scale critical transition” to a new environment, according to the journal Nature.

“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 UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.