State of the World 1988

January 1988
ISBN: 0-393-30440-X
237 pages

In preparing this assessment in each of the last five years, the Worldwatch Institute has in effect given the earth an annual physical examination, checking its vital signs. The readings are not reassuring: The earth's forests are shrinking, its deserts expanding, and its soils eroding - all at record rates. Each year thousands of plant and animal species disappear, many before they are named or catalogued. The very temperature of the earth appears to be rising, posing a threat of unknown dimensions to virually all the life-support systems on which humanity depends.

State of the World 1998 warns that societies' use of fossil fuels poses unacceptable risks of climate change and environmental changes, just as previous editions have profiled the insupportable costs of nuclear power. Simply put, the question becomes: If not coal, and if not nuclear, then what? The authors sketch the vast promise that lies in improved energy efficiency and renewable power sources, and recommend policies to unleash this potential.

Other chapters challenge leaders to reforest the earth, avoid a mass extinction of species, redesign farming and industry to curtail toxic chemicals, renew the global commitment to family planning, and hat the costly and ill-conceived Strategic Defense Initiative. As never before, human prospects depend on such efforts to restore and manage the natural systems that underpin the global economy.