State of the World 1997

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This fourteenth edition of State of the World coincides with two important milestones: the fifth anniversary of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and the tenth anniversary of the 1987 Montreal protocol to protect the earth's ozone layer. With these two landmarks in mind, 1997 seemed a particularly good year to review progress in addressing global environmental problems.
Whether progress is viewed as a glass half empty or half full, the international environmental agenda is increasingly crowded as the decade draws to a close. Extreme climatic events such as the destructive tropical storms that ravaged North America and Asia in 1996 and the crop-withering heat wave that claimed 465 lives in Chicago in the summer of 1995 have heightened concern about the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Dangers to the natural world are seen in the thousands of species of amphibians, birds, and mammals now threatened with extinction.
In this year's book, we have assembled the latest information on these new environmental threats, and have also described some of the surprising and potentially dangerous connections between these problems. One chapter, for example, examines the far-reaching effects that climate change may have on natural ecosystems, while another shows how dependent humanity is on the "services" provided by those ecosystems--from the pollination of crops to the maintenance of safe water supplies.