By Paul K. Conkin
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Additional resources for The State of the Earth: Environmental Challenges on the Road To 2100 (2006)(en)(308s)
Nooneknows. Unfortunately,itisthesecountriesthataremostrapidly exporting,orusingup,theirnaturalassets. Suchissuesimplicateasystemofinternationalaccountsthatwould,in proportionateways,havetobeincorporatedintonationalaccounts,and onecansensethelevelofinternationalconﬂictthatmightensueifthe UnitedNationsorregionalagenciestriedtoimplementsuchasystem. Althoughmostpoorcountrieshavetriedtodealwithenvironmentalproblems,andinsomecaseshavehadtodoso,theyhave lackedtheresources,orthepoliticallegitimacy,toenforceenvironmental legislation.
Economicgrowth,bothindevelopedcountriesandpoorcountries,willbeself-defeatingifitinvolvesausingupof nonrenewableresources,suchasfossilfuels,orasteadydrawdownof renewableresources,suchasforestsorsoilnutrients. Poor countries,bynecessity,arerapidlyusinguprenewableresources,while thewealthofafﬂuentcountriesdependsuponthepastandcontinuing exploitationoftheworld’sdwindlingreserveoffossilfuels. Butbecauseofthepopulationexplosion,neverbeforehavesomanyenvironmentalproblemsbeenglobalintheirimplications(globalwarming, massiveextinctionsofspecies,rainforestdestruction,acidrain,ocean pollution)andsodifﬁcultbothtounderstandandtomitigate.
Suchcountriescannotaffordtoattendto developingenvironmentalproblems. Inasense,thegreatoverarchingproblem Population,Consumption,andtheEnvironment 37 forpoorcountriesiscontinuedrapidpopulationgrowth,aproblemthat wealthycountries,withstableordecliningpopulations,candolittleto inﬂuencefromadistance. Nomoreinwealthycountries,althoughproblemsofwastedisposalstillhauntthem. But who doubts thatfact?