Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release

Contact

Gaelle Gourmelon, ggourmelon@worldwatch.org , (+1) 202-745-8092, ext. 510

Press Release

Hidden Threats Imperil Quest for Sustainable Societies Worldwide, Report Finds

Worldwatch's State of the World 2015 finds that many global dangers to sustainability (and their solutions) are often overlooked
WASHINGTON -

The world's economies and people face hidden dangers to sustainability that demand immediate action. According to State of the World 2015: Confronting Hidden Threats to Sustainability, the latest edition of the annual series from the Worldwatch Institute, these threats, driven directly or indirectly by growing stress on the planet's resources, have the potential to upend social systems, environmental balance, and even entire economies (www.worldwatch.org).

"These threats are hidden in the sense that they are commonly overlooked or underappreciated," notes Ed Groark, Acting President of Worldwatch. "But addressing them is critical to building sustainable societies."

The report outlines a set of issues whose roots in resource overconsumption are typically not explored in news accounts. The threats identified are diverse, ranging from emerging diseases that originate in animals and growing dependence on imported food to the problems of energy availability and increasingly degraded oceans. The common link among these various challenges--- humanity's rising claim on the planet's resources--- suggests the urgent need to commit to sustainable economies in which resources are stewarded and the environment is protected.

Over the last few decades, human societies have come to comprehend that they are depleting resources at unsustainable rates, spreading dangerous pollutants, undermining ecosystems, and threatening to unhinge the planet's climate balance. But a reckoning is complicated by the fact that the complete environmental impacts are not always readily discernible--- they are camouflaged and multiplied by discontinuities, synergisms, feedback loops, and cascading effects. And the manner in which environmental impacts translate into the social and economic spheres further complicates the picture, producing unexpected consequences. Even economic growth, long unquestioned and coveted, needs to be examined with healthy skepticism.

"These are significant threats, but each and every one of them has solutions, especially if we commit to an ethic of stewardship, robust citizenship, and a systems approach to addressing the challenges that we face," says Groark.

For many of these hidden threats, the solutions are common sense. For example, more rapid adoption of renewable energy systems would reduce the pressure to find ever more exotic sources of fossil fuels. And the pressure to import food could be reduced by effectively increasing food supplies through reductions in food waste-about a third of the global harvest is lost each year. But this requires that economics ministers and others set human well-being, rather than growth, as the primary economic objective, shifting the global economic machine away from intensive resource use and the endless pursuit of "more."

With the latest edition of State of the World, the researchers at Worldwatch bring to light challenges that we can no longer afford to ignore. For more information on State of the World, the Institute's annual flagship publication, view the complete book series.

###

The Worldwatch Institute was a globally focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C., founded by Lester R. Brown. Worldwatch was named as one of the top ten sustainable development research organizations by Globescan Survey of Sustainability Experts. Brown left to found the Earth Policy Institute in 2000. The Institute was wound up in 2017, after publication of its last State of the World Report. Worldwatch.org was unreachable from mid-2019.

Warren, Sanders, and Others Blast Biden's 'Failure' on Federal Cannabis Policy

While commending Biden's pardons and commutations, six senators wrote that "much more has to be done to address the racist and harmful legacy of cannabis policies on Black and Brown communities."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Broken' Capitalist Food System Drives Soaring Global Hunger: Oxfam

Criticism from the charity's food policy director came in response to a new United Nations report revealing that around 1 in 10 people worldwide went hungry last year.

Brett Wilkins ·


With Manchin's Backing, Senate Dems Unveil Plan to Let Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices

"This compromise will lower prices, cut costs, and stop the drug corporations from raising their prices faster than the rate of inflation," said Margarida Jorge of Lower Drug Prices Now.

Jake Johnson ·


'Fight for Us Goddamnit': Frustration Grows Over Biden Fecklessness Amid GOP Destruction

"We simply cannot make promises, hector people to vote, and then refuse to use our full power when they do," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·


EPA Likely Underestimating Amount of Toxic Forever Chemicals in US Water: Analysis

"The EPA is doing the bare minimum it can and that's putting people's health at risk," said the policy director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo