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September 2002

Delve deeper into hot topics featured in NGM’s September issue with help from Resources. Click on a link, pick up a periodical, browse through a book, and explore!
The Book Guy
Grey TabMore Book Guy
State of the PlanetGeographicaWho Knew?
7 Scientists7 Signs of Progress7 Setbacks7 Species on the Brink7 SactuariesClosing Thoughts
State of the Planet

Closing Thoughts

Taking progress and problems into account, the scientists give their final word on the state of the planet.

• E. O. Wilson, sociobiologist, Harvard University — The clearing of tropical forests has not slowed in the past ten years and threatens to destroy massive amounts of habitat. If awareness of the problem doesn’t facilitate change, nothing will.

• Jane Lubchenco, marine ecologist, Oregon State University — Only when ecosystem services such as climate regulation, the cleansing of air and water, and the creation of fertile soils are lost will we realize their true value.

• Sherry Rowland, atmospheric chemist, University of California, Irvine — A dramatic climate change may be required to focus people’s attention on the planet’s health.

• Wes Jackson, crop geneticist, The Land Institute — Agriculture and the need to feed growing numbers of people has a direct impact on the oceans. If we don’t so something about agriculture, the wilderness as well as the oceans are doomed.

• Richard Barber, oceanographer, Duke University — The most important thing average citizens can do is to tell our leaders we want answers. Our government has demystified hurricanes by showing how they occur and predicting when they will develop. That has allowed us to respond in enough time to reduce suffering. What we need now is the same kind of demystification of climate change.

• Theo Colborn, zoologist, World Wildlife Fund — Enough evidence exists to prove that petroleum-derived chemicals can enter the womb and hinder the development of the brain, immune system, and reproductive system.

• Hal Mooney, environmental biologist, Stanford University — One person or a small group can awaken the public to the importance of conservation issues, but scientists must make their findings clear and compelling to the general public and policymakers in order for change to occur.


Goudie, Andrew. The Human Impact on the Natural Environment, 5th ed. MIT Press, 2000.

Harrison, Paul, and others. AAAS Atlas of Population and Environment. University of California Press, 2000.

Prescott-Allen, Robert. The Wellbeing of Nations: A Country-by-Country Index of Quality of Life and the Environment. Island Press, 2001.

Smith, Dan. The State of the World Atlas. Penguin, 1999.

United Nations Environment Programme. Global Environmental Outlook. Earthscan, 2002.

World Resources Institute and others. World Resources 2001-2001: People and Ecosystems—The Fraying Web of Life. World Resources Institute, 2000.

Worldwatch Institute. State of the World 2002: Report on Progress Toward a Sustainable Society. W. W. Norton and Company, 2002.

Worldwatch Institute. Vital Signs 2001: The Environmental Trends That Are Shaping Our Future. W. W. Norton and Company, 2001.

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