Some conclusions from new study
Global 2000 Revised - a report by 20 experts - has taken a new look at where current ecological, economic, and population trends are headed. The highpoints of the findings, as presented by University of Illinois economist Julian L. Simon at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, include:
* Life expectancy has risen rapidly throughout the world, a sign of demographic, scientific, and economic success.
* The birth rate in less-developed countries has been falling, probably a result of modernization and of decreasing child mortality, and a sign of increased control by people over their family lives.
* Trends in world forests are not worrisome, taken as a whole, though there are places where deforestation is troubling.
* There is no evidence for the rapid loss of species in the next two decades that has been widely warned about.
* The fish catch, after a pause, has resumed its long upward trend.
* Land for agriculture in the world will not be an increasingly serious constraint in coming decades.
* In the US, the trend is toward higher-quality cropland suffering less from erosion than in the past.
* The widely-published report of increasingly rapid urbanization of US farmland was based on faulty data.
* Water doesn't pose a problem of physical scarcity or disappearance, although the situation does call for better management through a more rational system of property rights.
* The climate does not show signs of unusual and threatening changes.
* Mineral resources are becoming less scarce rather than more scarce, affront to common sense though that may be.
* There is no persuasive reason to believe that the world oil price will rise in coming decades. The price may fall well below what it has been.
* Nuclear power is certainly no more expensive than coal, and probably is much cheaper, under most circumstances.
* Nuclear power gives every evidence of costing many fewer lives per unit of energy produced, than coal or oil. It is also very much cheaper than oil.
* Solar and other nonconventional energy sources are too dillute to compete economically for much of humankind's energy needs, though for specialized uses and certain climates they can make a valuable contribution.
* Threats of air and water pollution have been vastly overblown, and the processes were not well analyzed in the original Global 2000 report.