World Watch Reader 1998

Editors: Lester R. Brown and Ed Ayres
ISBN: 0-393-31753-6
358 pages

Concern about the health of our planet has risen sharply in the past few years. World leaders, who for four decades were deeply preoccupied with Cold War threats, have awakened to the realization that the most pervasive threats to human security now may be environmental, not military. The expanding human population is straining the planet's capacities—not only its capacity to satisfy our relentlessly growing demands for food, energy, fresh water, lumber, and space to live, but also its ability to recover from the damage those demands have inflicted.

Many world leaders now believe the task of restoring Earth's vitality, and of reforming our global economy so that it does not continue to undermine its own ecological foundation, will be the central challenge of the next century. For many of these leaders, articles in World Watch magazine—from which this book is compiled—are an essential source of information. Published by the Worldwatch Institute, the magazine has specialized in turning the work of thousands of scientific researchers into compelling, vividly written reports. Heads of state, activist organizations, and college professors worldwide use these articles to keep abreast of emerging global issues.

The new edition of The World Watch Reader cover the most important "mega-problems" facing humanity at the outset of the new millennium: how to produce energy for electricity, transportation, and heat without causing dangerous disruptions to climate; how to reverse the declining health of the oceans, forests, and freshwater resources on which our well-being absolutely depends; and what to do about the new social instabilities—such as resurgent diseases and rising refugee flows—that result from environmental distress.

Always focused on solutions, the World Watch authors confront the world's most pressing problems with a clear vision of how the same human ingenuity and adaptability that created or exacerbated these problems can now be harnessed to solve them. The threats to our planet can be deeply discouraging, but being able to see far-reaching strategies for overcoming those threats can be empowering. Those who aspire to such empowerment will want to read this volume.