The United Nations Environment Program issued a report showing that the world has made significant progress on only four of the 90 most important environmental objectives agreed on through the U.N. process. Gains have come in eliminating ozone-depleting substances, phasing out lead in gasoline, increasing access to water supplies and encouraging research into marine pollutants. In most other categories — including protecting plant and animal species, curbing marine pollution and conserving water supplies — humanity is falling short.
“If current trends continue, if current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and ‘decoupled,’ then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement.
The journal Nature published a series of articles Wednesday on the precarious state of the planet, including a study that warns that the world could be approaching a tipping point at which human activities cause a “planetary-scale critical transition” to a different environment.