It is probably getting more and more obvious to people that most of the dangers now threatening our planet come from our own uncontrolled population growth. The horror of five billion men is now practically upon us and about to get worse and worse.

Indeed, this number is expected to grow to nearly 11b before it is likely to reach a plateau at the beginning of the next century. According to demographers, China's population will reach 1,285m by the year 2000. The fact that population growth in the industrialized countries has slowed down for the past few decades is hardly less worrying. These highly developed countries are now supporting the maximum number of people that can be accepted in the short term. Moreover their citizens consume about thirty times as much energy resources as those of the Third World. Thus the 120m inhabitants of Japan have a far greater damaging impact on world resources than the whole population of China and India combined.

In fact, most of the threats to our environment are of human origin. They are not even due to the necessity of meeting basic human needs, but they are mostly caused by the constant search for personal profit, selfish comfort, short-term returns, material happiness, dizzying speed that have become the major values of our western civilization.

Whole parts of the Baltic Sea are dying. The corpses of three hundred gray seals and of millions of fish have recently been found on beaches. Apparently, agricultural pollutants and industrial toxic waste, the two ugly sisters, are as usual mainly to blame. In Africa, the number of elephants is declining rapidly and the black rhino is on the verge of extinction. The consequences of such selfish behavior are coming to light only now and maybe too late. It is up to us, the lovers of nature, to try to make sure that enough of the natural world survives so that our children will still be able to enjoy the beauty and plenty our planet has to offer.

USA Today, March 2000