Problems Associated with ‘Global Assets’

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  • Global warming (global climate change), one of the greatest threats to global civilisation: results of global climate change assessments are regularly published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Hurricanes in the west and south of the USA convinced President Clinton that the phenomenon was caused by human activity. The rising sea level is an obvious example. The Kyoto Protocol is supposed to face the danger at present; it binds industrialised nations to reduce their emissions of gases causing climate change to the 1990 level.
  • Depletion of fish resources: every fifth human depends on fish for protein. About 125 million tonnes of fish were extracted in 1995 alone (compare with the extraction of 80 tonnes of brown coal in North Bohemia in the same period in 1988-9). The fishing fleet exceeds the sustainable fishery level by 100%. Fifty per cent of all sea fish has been exploited so far. The solution consists in reducing the fishing fleet, stringent control of illegal fishing, and setting limits to permissible catch.
  • Deforestation has been a problem for years. The forest cover has decreased by 20-50% compared to the pre-neolithic period. The area of subtropical forest in developing countries has shrunk by 20% since the 1960s. Conservation of forests is not safeguarded by any means whatsoever at the global level, but some countries have made efforts.
  • The lack of water is the most pressing of the problems. About 1.2 billion people lack access to good drinking water. Three billion people die as a result of drinking impure water each year. In total, 70-80% of all water is used in irrigation, but the groundwater resources are running scarce quickly in those countries most heavily dependent on this method of irrigation: India, China, and the USA. The Near East, however, is the most seriously threatened region. Governments of most developed industrialised countries committed themselves at the 2002 Johannesburg Summit to provide financial aid for solving this problem as soon as possible.
  • Sea pollution and endangered marine biodiversity is caused by oil spills from tankers, naval transport, discharges of wastewater, and global tourism (the Mediterranean, Baltic, North Sea, etc.). The collapse of biodiversity in the sea is also caused by the dwindling fish stock due to the already mentioned overfishing.