Environmental damage called threat to security

January 24, 1995|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- The Cold War is over. Yet an environmental group warns that virtually every government in the world faces a growing danger to its national security: environmental degradation on a scale so large that it threatens to undermine governments around the globe.

"Unless security is redefined quickly and priorities reordered accordingly, our children will face an economically impoverished and politically volatile future -- a future so different from the recent past that we cannot easily imagine what it will be like," says the 1995 annual "State of the World" report recently released by the Worldwatch Institute.

Rising population, over-harvesting of fish, depletion of forests and the overuse of ground-water reserves will lead to unemployment, inflation and declining productivity in many countries, the institute predicts. Those conditions, in turn, will threaten world stability, it says.

As examples of dwindling food supplies, the report cites a more than 90 percent reduction in the oyster harvest from Maryland's Chesapeake Bay, similar reductions in the Caspian Sea sturgeon harvest and dwindling fish species in the Black Sea.

Hilary French, associate project director, said many governments are responding by spending money to contain the crises rather than by working to improve underlying conditions.

Among the remedies the institute prescribes is a worldwide tax on currency exchanges to fund preservation programs. A tax of .003 percent could raise $8.4 billion, she said.

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