Tipping Points: Environmental Trends to Destroy or Save Civilization

With civilization standing at multiple self-generated tipping points, a renowned environmentalist outlines 10 environmental trends of grave concern and 10 trends that give us reason for hope.



environmental trends - world hunger
Spreading hunger, a consequence of environmental stress, is one of 10 troubling environmental trends humanity faces. The government of Bangladesh had to subsidize rice in 2008 when the cost of food skyrocketed.
PHOTO: PAVEL RAHMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Soil erosion
While demand for food-producing land increases, wind erosion reduces the amount of productive cropland.
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Melting ice sheets
Every spring, water from melting glaciers in Asia feeds the continent’s rivers. Because of global warming, the glaciers are shrinking, threatening the region’s water supply.
ISTOCKPHOTO/GORFER
Destruction of forests
Although some regions of the world are actually gaining forestland, there is a net loss of forests worldwide.
ISTOCKPHOTO/LUOMAN
Asian fish farm
The number of wild fish is declining, but farmed fish production is increasing.
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Concentrated solar power
In a concentrated solar power system, curved mirrors focus sunlight. The heat energy is then converted into electricity. Some experts predict that nearly half of Europe’s electric supply could be produced from solar thermal power plants in North Africa. 
WARREN GRETZ/NREL
Bicycle commute
Global production of bicycles is increasing. Some countries offer incentives to encourage the use of bikes instead of cars.
REDCHOPSTICKS.COM/SUPERSTOCK
Local food farm stand
Buying local food is not just good for the local economy, it’s also good for the global environment — and it usually tastes better, too!
BLEND IMAGES/SUPERSTOCK











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