What Worldwatch Sees: “Time Running Out to Ensure Sustainable Prosperity for All”
The Institute Releases its Annual ‘State of the World’ Report
The Worldwatch Institute released its annual installment of a global assessment of sustainability (or lack thereof) –the State of the World report for 2012, entitled “Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity.”
Despite the optimistic title the report -in its 29th year of publication- warns in its press release entitled Time Running Out to Ensure Sustainable Prosperity for All that the planet cannot maintain humanity’s current levels and rates of resource consumption without resulting in serious consequences for both people and ecosystems. Luckily, its 35 contributors offer both problem and solution to the planet’s most pressing concerns throughout the book’s 17 chapters, which include titles such as: The Path to Degrowth in Overdeveloped Countries, Reinventing the Corporation, Moving Toward Sustainable Transport and Biodiversity: Combating the Sixth Mass Extinction.
In Degrowth in Overdeveloped Countries author Erik Assadourian writes that the toll of humans on the planet equals 1.5 Earths’ worth of ecological capacity (with much of that coming from overdeveloped industrial countries), and recommends economic degrowth in these areas by means of:
“tax shifting, shortening work weeks, denormalizing certain types of consumption, and de-marketizing certain sectors of the economy, such as food production and child care.”
The 2012 version of the report first released by Worldwatch in 1984 states and stresses that “we must act quickly to redefine our understanding of the ‘good life’ and redouble our efforts to make that life sustainable.” Over the last 50 years, the world’s middle and upper classes have more than doubled their consumption levels, and an additional 1 to 2 billion people globally aspire to join the consumer class.
According to the report Peru is the only nation on the planet (according to 2007 data) that strikes a successful balance between human development and resource consumption. The rest of us, it seems, have to redefine our give and take relationship with the earth.
“We need to reprioritize basic needs and pursue true sustainable prosperity: development that allows all human beings to live with their fundamental needs met, with their dignity acknowledged, and with abundant opportunity to pursue lives of satisfaction and happiness, all without risk of denying others in the present and the future the ability to do the same.”