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OPENING REMARKS

N.P.Tarasova

Russian Academy of Sciences

Allow me to welcome you on behalf of Academician N.P.Laverov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and chairman of the RAS Scientific Council on Ecological Problems and Emergency Events, and convey his wish for a successful workshop.

The workshop topics demonstrate the deep perception by the scientific community of the necessity to cooperate with social organizations. This necessity comes from global processes of interaction between humans and the natural environment.

On the threshold of the twenty-first century, degradation of the environment is a global problem. The consequences of social impact on the biosphere can be compared now with those of natural disasters. People have begun to change ecosystems that were created by nature long before human existence on the planet.

The population of the Earth has doubled in the last 40 years and reached six billion people by 1999. Achievements of civilization in improving living conditions have resulted in population growth far beyond the limits specified by nature’s ecological capacity.

The scheme suggested by D.Meadows is very important. Most people on the planet worry only about their own families and some close friends, and only for a short period. A few people think about problems of their city or country. D. Meadows expects that more than 90 percent do not think about future milleniums. Billions of people wish to satisfy their requirements immediately and behave on the Earth as if the future does not concern them. They readily waste natural resources, pollute the natural environment, and are hostile to each other.



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The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop OPENING REMARKS N.P.Tarasova Russian Academy of Sciences Allow me to welcome you on behalf of Academician N.P.Laverov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and chairman of the RAS Scientific Council on Ecological Problems and Emergency Events, and convey his wish for a successful workshop. The workshop topics demonstrate the deep perception by the scientific community of the necessity to cooperate with social organizations. This necessity comes from global processes of interaction between humans and the natural environment. On the threshold of the twenty-first century, degradation of the environment is a global problem. The consequences of social impact on the biosphere can be compared now with those of natural disasters. People have begun to change ecosystems that were created by nature long before human existence on the planet. The population of the Earth has doubled in the last 40 years and reached six billion people by 1999. Achievements of civilization in improving living conditions have resulted in population growth far beyond the limits specified by nature’s ecological capacity. The scheme suggested by D.Meadows is very important. Most people on the planet worry only about their own families and some close friends, and only for a short period. A few people think about problems of their city or country. D. Meadows expects that more than 90 percent do not think about future milleniums. Billions of people wish to satisfy their requirements immediately and behave on the Earth as if the future does not concern them. They readily waste natural resources, pollute the natural environment, and are hostile to each other.

OCR for page 1
The Role of Environmental NGOs: Russian Challenges American Lessons - Proceedings of a Workshop However, quite different thinking is necessary to ensure that the biosphere will survive. It must include social projections for at least 25 years. Politicians, leaders, and decision-makers need such projections. According to J.Mayer, an initiator of the Talloires group University Presidents for a Sustainable Future, the number of people who are able to analyze global social forecasts does not exceed one thousand. These people do everything possible to save the planet. Nongovernmental organizations should play a key role in realization of scientific principles by the general public. As a matter of fact, they are an example of self-organization of human society and a response to the changes in nature and in the social environment. So I should like to express a hope for identification and articulation of future directions as a result of cooperation among our workshop members representing a wide spectrum of nongovernmental and scientific organizations. I also wish to express our special thanks to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency for financial support of this workshop.