Introduction: Environmental Concerns Emerge

The early 1970s saw the publication of Limits to Growth (a Report of the Club of Rome), the Report of the 1972 Stockholm Conference of the United Nations on “The Human Environment,” and the late Dr E. F. Schumacher's book Small is Beautiful (1974). These can now be seen as seminal events that triggered a debate leading, in the late 1980s, to a global agreement – ranging from the supermarket shopper in the High Street to the General Assembly of the United Nations. It is now believed that if there is a continuation of the kind of development so far known and enjoyed by a quarter of the world's population, it is very likely to lead to such widespread environmental and ecological damage as to amount to the destruction of a large part of the earth's life support system. Thus it is said that the traditional form of economic development, based on a particular set of assumptions and beliefs having the six characteristics listed below (pages 326–7), is unsustainable:

Not since the dawn of civilisation some 8,000 years ago has the earth been about 1°C warmer than today. To find conditions like those projected for the middle of the next century, we must go back millions of years. If current trends in “greenhouse gas” build up continue, we will have committed earth to a warming of 1.5° to 4.5°C by around 2030, the upper end of this range being the more probable. In short, if the “greenhouse-effect” turns out to be as great as predicted by today's ...

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