UN calls for technological revolution or ‘major planetary catastrophe’

July 6th, 2011 - 7:23 am ICT by BNO News  

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — The United Nations (UN) on Tuesday warned that humanity is coming close to breaching the sustainability of Earth, urging a greater and faster technological revolution to avoid “a major planetary catastrophe.”

The UN’s yearly report titled “The World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Great Green Technological Transformation,” underlined the importance of scaling up clean energy technologies, sustainable farming and forestry techniques, climate-proofing of infrastructure, and technologies reducing non-biological degradable waste production.

Developing these environmental technologies would need worldwide investments, said the report, which was published on Tuesday by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

According to the study, $1.9 trillion per year will be needed over the next 40 years for incremental investments in green technologies, and at least $1.1 trillion of that will need to be made in developing countries to meet increasing food and energy demands.

“It is rapidly expanding energy use, mainly driven by fossil fuels, that explains why humanity is on the verge of breaching planetary sustainability boundaries through global warming, biodiversity loss, and disturbance of the nitrogen-cycle balance and other measures of the sustainability of the earth’s ecosystem,” the report stated. “A comprehensive global energy transition is urgently needed in order to avert a major planetary catastrophe.”

In addition, the report noted the necessity of technological transformation, greater in scale and achievable within a much shorter time frame than the first industrial revolution.

“The necessary set of new technologies must enable today’s poor to attain decent living standards, while reducing emissions and waste and ending the unrestrained drawdown of the Earth’s non-renewable resources,” the report continued, adding that technological change would require social transformation with “changed settlement and consumption patterns and better social values.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized that “rather than viewing growth and sustainability as competing goals on a collision course, we must see them as complementary and mutually supportive imperatives,” stating that this becomes possible when a low-carbon, resource-efficient, pro-poor economic model is adopted.

“Business as usual is not an option,” the report concluded. “An attempt to overcome world poverty through income growth generated by existing ‘brown technologies’ would exceed the limits of environmental sustainability.”

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