We think we understand environmental damage: pollution, water scarcity, a warming world. But these problems are just the tip of the iceberg. Food insecurity, financial assets drained of value by environmental damage, and a rapid rise in diseases of animal origin are among the underreported consequences of an unsustainable global system.
In State of the World 2015, the flagship publication of The Worldwatch Institute, experts explore hidden threats to sustainability and how to address them. How will nations deal with migration as climate change refugees cross borders in order to escape flooding, drought, or other extreme weather events? What will happen to the price and availability of fossil energy?the foundation of industrial civilization – as these resources oscillate between surplus and scarcity? If perpetual economic growth on a finite planet is impossible, what are the alternatives? Can national governments manage the transition? Eight key issues are addressed in depth, along with the central question of how we can develop resilience to these and other shocks.
For decades, The Worldwatch Institute has been a leader in identifying and analyzing emerging environmental threats. With the latest edition of State of The World, the authorities at Worldwatch bring to light challenges we can no longer afford to ignore.
PART I. Introduction
Chapter 1. The Seeds of Modern Threats \ Michael Renner
PART II. Emerging Issues
Chapter 2. Energy, Credit, and the End of Growth \ Nathan John Hagens
Chapter 3. The Trouble with Growth \ Peter A. Victor and Tim Jackson
Chapter 4. Avoiding Stranded Assets \ Ben Caldecott
Chapter 5. Mounting Losses of Agricultural Resources \ Gary Gardner
Chapter 6. The Oceans: Resilience at Risk \ Katie Auth
Chapter 7. Whose Arctic Is it? \ Heather Exner-Pirot
Chapter 8. Emerging Diseases from Animals \ Catherine C. Machalaba, Elizabeth H. Loh, Peter Daszak, and William B. Karesh
Chapter 9. Migration as a Climate Adaption Strategy \ Françios Gemenne
PART III. Conclusion
Chapter 10. Childhood's End \ Tom Prugh
2-1 The Power of Fossil Slaves
2-2 Peak Oil, or Peak Benefits?
2-3 A Brief Guide to Fracking \ Robert Rapier
2-4 Oil Prices: Walking on a Wire
3-1 What is Economic Growth?
4-1 The Tentacles of Stranded Assets
4-2 Nature's Contributions to Healthy Economics
4-3 Tools for Retiring Assets
8-1 The Chain of Infection
9-1 Natural Disasters and Human Displacement: Recent Trends \ Michael Renner
1-1 World Metal Emissions to the Atmosphere, 1901-1990
1-2 Social, Economic, and Environmental Trends Between the First and Second Rio Earth Summits
1-3 Types of Unexpected Environmental Change
2-1 Costs of Human Labor versus Fossil "Labor"
4-1 Environmental-related Risks That Could Produce Stranded Assets
4-2 Direct Environmental Damage as a Share of Revenue for Select Economic Activities
5-1 Number of Countries and Populations Subject to Water Supply Challenges, 1962 versus 2011
5-2 Land Grabbed by Foreign Entities, by Region
5-3 Leading Investor and Target Countries for Land Investments
5-4 Number of Grain Importing and Exporting Countries, 1961 versus 2013
5-5 Potential Water Savings from Increases in Water Efficiency in Agriculture
5-6 Water Needed to Produce Various Types of Meat
6-1 Employment in Fisheries and Aquaculture in Selected African Countries, 2011
1-1 World Metals Production, 1950-2013
2-1 Global Energy Consumption and Population, 1830-2010
2-2 World Primary and Useful Energy Consumption versus GDP, 1980-2008
3-1 Material Footprint "Decoupling" in OECD Countries, 1991-2008
3-2 A Low/No Growth Scenario for Canada, 2005-2035
4-1 Time Horizons for Environmental-related Risks in Agriculture
5-1 Grain Import Dependence in Two Regions, 1960-2012
6-1 World Fisheries and Aquaculture Production, 1960-2012
7-1 Mean Increases in Global Surface Temperature by Latitude in 2008-2013, Compared to 1951-1980 Baseline
7-2 Average Arctic sea Ice Extent in September, 1979-2014
7-3 Prolongation of the Continental Shelf in the Arctic
9-1 Variations in Disasters and Population Movements
9-3 Climate Change Adaption and Migration
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Founded in 1974 by farmer and economist Lester Brown, Worldwatch was the first independent research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental concerns. Worldwatch quickly became recognized by opinion leaders around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Worldwatch develops innovative solutions to intractable problems, emphasizing a blend of government leadership, private sector enterprise, and citizen action that can make a sustainable future a reality.