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Population Summit of the World's Scientific Academies (1993)

Chapter:The Earth Is Finite

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Suggested Citation:"The Earth Is Finite." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 1993. Population Summit of the World's Scientific Academies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9148.
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of development. If all people of the world consumed fossil fuels and other natural resources at the rate now characteristic of developed countries (and with current technologies), this would greatly intensify our already unsustainable demands on the biosphere. Yet development is a legitimate expectation of less developed and transitional countries.

THE EARTH IS FINITE

he growth of population over the last half century was for a time matched by similar world-wide increases in utilizable resources. However, in the last decade food production from both land and sea has declined relative to population growth. The area of agricultural land has shrunk, both through soil erosion and reduced possibilities of irrigation. The availability of water is already a constraint in some countries. These are warnings that the earth is finite, and that natural systems are being pushed ever closer to their limits.

QUALITY OF LIFE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

ur common goal is improving the quality of life for all people, those living today and succeeding generations, ensuring their social, economic, and personal well-being with guarantees of fundamental human rights; and allowing them to live harmoniously with a protected environment. We believe that this goal can be achieved, provided we are willing to undertake the requisite social change. Given time, political will, and intelligent use of science and technology, human ingenuity can remove many constraints on improving human welfare worldwide, finding substitutes for wasteful practices, and protecting the natural environment.

But time is short and appropriate policy decisions are urgently needed.

Suggested Citation:"The Earth Is Finite." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 1993. Population Summit of the World's Scientific Academies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9148.
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