The speed at which mankind has used the Earth’s resources over the past 20 years has put “humanity’s very survival” at risk, a study involving 1,400 scientists has concluded.
The environmental audit, for the United Nations, found that each person in the world now requires a third more land to supply his or her needs than the Earth can supply
per cent of amphibians, 23 per cent of mammals and 12 per cent of birds are under threat of extinction, while one in ten of the world’s major rivers runs dry every year before it reaches the sea.
The bleak verdict on the environment was issued as an “urgent call for action” by the United Nations Environment Programme, which said that the “point of no return” was fast approaching.
Graves are to be reopened to allow bodies to be stacked one on top of another in a controversial move announced by the Government yesterday.
Graves are to be reopened to allow bodies to be stacked one on top of another in a controversial move announced by the Government yesterday
Bodies buried for as little as 75 years could be dug up and re-buried in deeper ground to allow another coffin to be interred above.
The name of the newly-buried person could even be added to the headstone.
This follows Government research which found that cemeteries and graveyards will be full within 30 years.
The decision is likely to unsettle religious groups concerned about the sanctity of burial grounds and charities for the bereaved.
Up to 1.7 million in the UK will have dementia by 2050 and the costs of caring for them will be colossal, experts have warned.
Britain currently pays £17bn a year to look after 700,000 people who have the condition – the equivalent to £539 per second.
But the number of sufferers is set to rise to more than one million in less than 20 years, creating a crisis in medical and social care.
According to estimates, by 2050 the number will have soared to 1.7 million.
An Alzheimer’s Society report into the social and economic impact of dementia warns that urgent action is needed to plan for the increase.
A former government pensions adviser has warned that 80% of people may not have enough money to live on in their retirement.
Independent consultant Ros Altmann said the UK was in the grip of a pensions crisis and criticised the government for presiding over a system in which employee savings had been destroyed.
Her comments were made as part of an ITV1 programme, Where’s My Pension Gone?, due to be screened on Thursday.
In it, pension experts assess the state of the UK’s company pensions system and examine the effect that collapsed schemes have had on victims.
As part of the programme, Dr Altmann warns that people should be aware there is a pensions crisis.
“I would say about 80% of the country needs to be seriously worried that when they come to retire, they will simply not have enough money to live on at anything like a decent level,” she said.
“If there is one person in government who is responsible for this pensions scandal, it has to be the chancellor. Gordon Brown has been presiding over our pensions system at the treasury since 1997.”
The scientists who mind the Doomsday Clock on Wednesday moved it two minutes closer to midnight — symbolising the annihilation of civilisation — adding the perils of global warming for the first time to acute nuclear threats.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 to warn the world of the dangers of nuclear weapons, advanced the clock to five minutes until midnight. It was the first adjustment of the clock since 2002.
“We stand at the brink of a second nuclear age,” the group said in a statement.
They pointed to North Korea’s first test of a nuclear weapon last year, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, U.S. flirtation with “bunker buster” nuclear bombs, the continued presence of 26,000 nuclear weapons in the United States and Russia and inadequate security for nuclear materials.
But the scientists also said the destruction of human habitats wreaked by climate change brought on by human activities is a growing danger to humankind.
“Global warming poses a dire threat to human civilisation that is second only to nuclear weapons,” they said.
The government has only a year to save the NHS and maintain its status as a free service funded by taxation, the leader of Britain’s 120,000 doctors warned yesterday.
James Johnson, chairman of the British Medical Association, said the period of record growth in the health budget was due to come to an end next year. If Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, did not correct the “idiocy” of the competitive market she created in the NHS, there would be overwhelming pressure for fundamental reform.
Mr Johnson said: “If we get to the end of 2008 and we still cannot balance the books, ministers will want to look carefully at what they do next.”
That could mean restricting the range of services offered on the NHS, asking patients to contribute towards the cost, or slowing down the speed of treatment.
“The BMA believes in a tax-funded system, but other countries have [other] systems. When Alan Milburn talked about the NHS being in the last chance saloon, he was not talking out of his hat.
If we spend 9% of national income on the NHS and we can’t make it work, people will ask: do we need something fundamentally different?”
A European Commission report has predicted that large parts of southern Europe could be turned into desert by global warming.
The report also said severe droughts could kill tens of thousands.
The Commission has said it wants to keep a lid on climate change and has set a target to limit the increase in temperatures to 2C.
To achieve that, EU countries need to cut their carbon dioxide emissions to 30 per cent below what they were 20 years ago.
But environmental groups say even that may not be enough to stop Europe’s worst climate nightmares becoming reality.