BBC BLOGS - Richard Black's Earth Watch
« Previous | Main | Next »

Dry Amazon, dry world?

Richard Black | 14:13 UK time, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Whisper this in case you're near any BBC managers looking to cut costs - just occasionally this job gives you experiences so special that, to be honest, you would have paid for them willingly.

Tap with water dropletA little over two years ago I had one of those experiences: a week in the Amazon making a BBC World Service radio documentary about sustainable forestry - what it means in the Brazilian context, how it's being implemented, and whether it can work.

It's a part of the world I hadn't visited before and, as usual in these situations, some of the people you meet are as special as the places you see - a cousin of the noted activist Chico Mendes, for example, who makes a living by collecting Brazil nuts and other things that the forest provides.

We met a female timber magnate who'd come from a family of dodgy loggers but who was trying to "go straight", a state premier who'd established a nursery growing saplings of Amazonian trees for replanting, and environmental campaigners passionate about making forestry sustainable but equally adamant that their state produced the best beef in the world (and it really was good).

Perhaps the least expected encounter was with a scientist from the US, Foster Brown. He's worked in the region for many years now and was writing a report on the wildfires that sprang up in unusually large numbers in 2005. The fires coincided with a period of very low rainfall in Acre province - drought, in fact, with rain virtually absent for months.

I pinched myself to remember where I was - in the middle of the Amazon basin, a region that's a byword for the verdant ebullience of nature, in something that's called, let us remember, rainforest.

Acre has had dry seasons quite regularly in fact, many of them related to the El Nino/La Nina cycle in the Pacific Ocean some 800km (500 miles) away. What made this one different was that, for the first time in living memory, villagers complained of not being able to get enough water.

Two things had changed from previous dry periods. More and more people were living in the region, partly as a result of the local population growing and partly because of the government's decades-old policy of "settling" the Amazon and making the region economically productive.

Sawmill in Amazon regionThe expanding population in turn meant more mouths thirsty for water, more land cleared of its natural water-conserving vegetation for cattle-ranching, more water consumption by that cattle, and consequently a landscape through which fire could travel more rapidly and easily.

The result in 2005 [pdf link] was an estimated $50m of direct economic losses and a state of emergency declared in three provinces.

It struck me that here in the Amazon we had a microcosm of the factors that mean more and more societies around the world are having to think about water harder that they've had to before.

The issue isn't population growth or economic development or climatic factors - it's all of them.

Some regions and some societies are more capable of adaptation than others, of course; and while economic development can cause shortages, it can also be a way to overcome shortages.

But who should own water, and how should it be managed to make sure that economic progress leads to cleaner and more reliable supplies rather than depletion?

Certainly, water is far too complex a topic for a single blog post. So it's lucky that - as if by magic - I can refer you to a series of articles that Clare Davidson, a colleague who covers business affairs for the BBC website, and I have written and commissioned.

We'll be rolling them out over the next two weeks - here's the first - and I'd be most interested at any stage to chat here about the issues raised.


or register to comment.

  • 1. At 7:12pm on 03 Feb 2009, JRWoodman wrote:

    Having filmed several farms in Northern Brazil that have been 'reclaimed' from forested areas, what amazed me was the speed with which the soil breaks down in tropical heat, losing its organic content until it becomes little more than sand. Based on my discussion with local agronomists, the soil is only fertile for a limited number of years, after which it is unable to grow crops without the addition of increasing quantities of fossil-energy based fertilisers.

    I also witnessed quite a few 'mini tornadoes' moving quantities of the loose, sandy, earth. Soil erosion through run-off can occur at an alarming rate when tropical rain storms do occur.

    The other thing I observed was numerous old diesel-powered pumps -- surrounded by discarded oil drums -- sitting alongside rivers, pumping water through a 6" pipe out into the fields to grow crops such as tomatoes.

    Sure, water is a big issue, but without a constant supply of cheap fossil energy, agriculture there would just wither and die.

    We're losing a colossal natural asset in exchange for a limited short-term gain.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 7:39pm on 03 Feb 2009, CuckooToo wrote:

    Shouldn't this be tied in with the real elephant in the room - population, as noted in the BBC's Green room and by many sceptics as being the real problem?

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 10:54pm on 03 Feb 2009, Zeeclimber wrote:

    The current global population actually gives us the human resources necessary to make the urgently needed shifts to sustainable bussiness practices; that affect the global community and environment. As Dominic Waughray outlined in his "Water Scramble" piece, historical precedents of wastful water allocation and usage, coupled with poor forestry techniques has but a crunch on the global water supply. Deferring our attention from the bussiness-environmental interface will only exacerbate the issues we face. Within the next four years, as nations prepare a post Kyoto protocol agreement obstacles and boundaries put up in the past must be removed. The global community must face the fact that we are here alone on Earth, only with each other for support, with the resource we have inherited for stewardship. We must refocus our energy, as human capital, on the demolition of the psychological boundaries that separate us from one another. We only have one planet to trash or worship

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 11:04pm on 03 Feb 2009, JRWoodman wrote:

    I believe depletion of the world's natural resources, uncontrolled growth and the resultant pollution are the 'real problems', CuckooToo.

    Over-population is the 'multiplier' -- the problem that makes all the others worse. There are now so many people on our planet that there is no way we can feed ourselves without the provision of massive amounts of energy: energy that -- for the foreseeable future -- we can only generate from a dwindling supply of fossil fuels.

    Unfortunately, to produce the food the world needs has resulted in the use of land which is not suitable for long-term agriculture and, if life is to be sustainable, should be left to serve the purpose for which it evolved.

    The whole situation is now highly complex and driven by the law of unintended consequences.

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 09:44am on 04 Feb 2009, Trefor Jones wrote:

    I do not disagree with the sentiment of the article, however the fantastic 1980s Granada series " A Decade of Destruction" made much the same points. However, a glimpse of that equally brilliant resource Google Earth shows clearly that Rondonia and Acre are the exceptions rather than rules. Jose Lutzemburger a noted environmentalist who featured in the programme eventually became Brazilian Minister for the Environment, yet in fact little changed. A subsequent Correspondent programme some twenty years later by BBC although by the same team showed largely a deal of environmental improvement. We must not mix development and destruction under the same banner

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 1:34pm on 04 Feb 2009, frohlix wrote:

    The Amazon has a quite fragile ecosystem. It depends on the forest to keep providing organic material to support a thick layer of fertile soil. Without this closed chain, it is easy to foresee a subsequent desertification.
    During 2005 the occidental Amazon (Manaus) area had the lowest level of the rivers within the past 102 years of records and it happened at the worst dry season in 50 years.

    Climatic change is not only a matter of temperature but also the weather disruptions. Rainfall has changed its patterns and it seems people do not pay attention to the deviance while only the average “is important”. It means the Global Warming soon will be responsible of the extinction of the rainforests around the world meanwhile the traditional media is naïve in talk only about the Tropical forest in North of South America, forgetting the spots in Central Africa and South Asia.

    Everybody talk about the deforestation but no attention is driven towards the real situation of the logging in which resides a hidden great problem. People get in the forests opening tracks around and bringing civilization with them. They put down giant trees and move it to be EXPORTED. There is an international committee responsible to define quotes of types and woods and this committee so far have resisted changing the quotes for Brazil. Farms and fires and cattle are direct consequences of this invasion.

    There is no Sugar Cane or commercial exploration of Cattle within Amazon basin because there is no infrastructure down there. Terrible roads and lack of support leads toward a non-competitive cost.

    I would be concerned about the impact of the Global Warming on the Tropical Forests and the Logging regulations which should be look more seriously in order to avoid the same mistake which happened to the Fishing industry.
    Many countries are doing their best to tackle the problem but while international attention are not driven to the main problems, all this effort are more likely to be wasted.

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 07:17am on 05 Feb 2009, TJ wrote:

    Richard. I believe you have touched on a very poignant topic. Humans can survive without most things (even food) for long periods. However, we cannot live more than a few days without water.
    JRWoodman #4 captures the essences succinctly for me.
    1/. Over-population is the 'multiplier'.
    And I real like:
    2/. The whole situation is now highly complex and driven by the law of unintended consequences.
    I live in California where we have long periods of drought inter-dispersed with torrential rains and flooding (varies between 10-40 inches of rain which is limited to our short winter months). There is no normal, this is the norm and seems linked to El Nino wet and La Nina dry. An increasing population therefore compounds the efforts to cope with these natural extremes. We need to be prepared for the two extremes at all times. You could probably draw an exponential graph of the impact compared to population increase. We have had two years of low rainfall since the 2006 flooding and we are already declaring a drought. The 1930’s and 1980’s saw 3-4 times this impact. I do not know how we will survive if they are repeated with our much increased population and industrial demands.
    ‘The law of unintended consequences’ can give good and bad results. Without adaption I can only see the bad. My vote would be for any US bail out money (and you could add all the money budgeted to combat global warming) goes into building supporting infrastructure. That way we get jobs and a sustainable future. Need to look at population growth, but that's for another day!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 11:56am on 05 Feb 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To "calcination",(Clearing the Air)

    Thanks for the kind words - much appreciated. Your comment also spurred me on to bone up on coral bleaching and acid acidification, with unexpected results:

    I had intended to comment on the Amazon and water issues brought up by Richard Black in this current article. But an epihany of a kind happened instead. I don't know how I missed it - gross stupidity might best explain it, but the ocean acidification problem, most recently discussed here and in "The Monaco Declaration", put the water issues, population explosion, in short, all other environmental problems and insults, into crystal clear perspective.

    "Apocalyptic" best describes the ocean acidification issue. Ocean acidification is directly attritutable to the absorption of the excess CO2 - post Industrial Revolution, i.e., post and present fossil fuel era.

    I did some 'back of the envelope' calculations myself, dusting off my HP 15C calculator. A drop in ocean alkalinity from a pH of 8.2 to 8.1, close enough for a first approximation, works out to a twenty six percent drop in hydrogen activation. I was using pH=log to base 10 one over hydrogen activation. I would welcome a check on this, by any mathematically adept readers.

    Over the same time period, atmospheric CO2 has increased from its pre-industrial level of 280 ppm by volume to its current 387 ppmv. That works out to a 38 percent increase. I did some further calculations based on the predicted values for both the accelerating drop in ocean alkalinity and the accelerating rise in atmospheric CO2, at the 2050 and 2100 year times, and to a first approximation, back of the envelope calculation, what I found is this:

    Ocean acidification is marching in lockstep with atmospheric CO2 increases. Not a Nobel Prize winning epihany, given the known absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the oceans, but devasting in its implications.

    I'll write more on the weekend, but say this for now.

    To Richard Black: Yes, the Amazon smoke is one of the harbingers of a dying planet, a sixth mass extinction event. But water issues, and all other environmental issues, need to be prioritized so that we can act.

    The uncontrolled and rampant burning of fossil fuels is on a scale of something like one hundred times the normal background emission of volcanic CO2 form all the world, including the mid ocean ridges. We haven't seen that spike in emission for at least twenty million years, maybe much longer. And the oceans are absorbing about one third of our atmospheric emissions, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the base of the oceanic food chain. All other environmental issues are tied to this, and cannot be adequately resolved until we address it.

    We are altering our ocean of air, our oceans of salt water, even the sediments being laid down in them.

    I would appreciate feedback, being a little shell-shocked just now?

    Aloha form Calgary

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 1:46pm on 05 Feb 2009, JRWoodman wrote:

    Manysummits: yes, yes and yes.

    The extraction of carbon deposits sequestered naturally in the form of coal and oil hundreds of millions of years ago, and now spewed into our atmosphere as CO2 and other gases by almost every aspect of modern life, is rapidly killing our planet.

    Not only is it acidifying our oceans, but it's heating the planet, melting ice, releasing methane, disturbing weather systems and generally screwing up the natural mechanisms that keep our planet in equilibrium.

    The problem is that in human terms these things are happening slowly -- humankind is the frog in the pan of boiling water.

    The only solutions will be political, and those politicians in power are not capable of thinking more than a few years ahead. Generally these people lack imagination; while the few that have got the message dare not say what needs saying for fear of losing their constituency.

    The scientific evidence of what we're doing to our world is now so overwhelming that it's now quite pointless to make projections: there's no good news -- it's all bad, and it's getting worse. We who can see the problem have to stop pussy-footing around and shout it from the rooftops. If we don't our grandchildren will come to hate us.

    In 2001 I moved to Devon in the UK, cashed in my pension, bought rough farmland, and started planting indigenous trees; 100 acres to date. It's not enough but it's all I can do. I talk to everyone I can, write on every website and send emails to anyone who will listen. I feel like one of the people in the 1930's who warned of the rise of Hitler. What else can you do if you see humanity sleep-walking towards a cliff?

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 11:41am on 06 Feb 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To JRWoodman:

    Thanks for your input, it makes me feel less lonely. Thanks for sharing your personal story, we need more of that, I think.

    I talked about the environment for twenty years, from the the 'Club of Rome's ' 1974 report "Limits to Growth", until 1994, when time and circumstance conspired to change me forever. A few years later, in 1999, I took up climbing mountains full-time, and for the next seven years discovered what it is to be a real part of nature. I figured, "Well, if I can't change the world, perhaps I can change me." A follow your heart story.

    Your 'law of unintended consequences' seems to have come into play, for I met a yound woman, also a climber, towards the end of that period. We decided to get married and raise a family. Our son is now approaching four and a half years of age, and 'climbed' his first mountain six days after he was born, his mother nursing him under headlamp beneath my down jacket on the descent. We're raising him, 'like an Apache.'

    And I've decided to speak out again, but this time I am less concerned with convincing anyone. Rather with speaking to like minded individuals for idea bouncing, and a plan of action.

    I stopped yesterday on the way home from work, and printed off a color copy of Ken Caldeira's article, "Anthropogenic carbon and ocean pH." (Nature; Sep 25, 2003; vol 425, p 365)

    More tomorrow, when I have more time.

    Cheers form Calgary

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 06:25am on 07 Feb 2009, TJ wrote:

    manysummits and JRWoodman: I read your comments with interest.
    You have sparked off some thoughts which I tussle with and would like to get your thoughts on.
    At times I believe that I love nature and the environment more than nature itself does. With its lightning strikes sparking vast expanses of wildfire destruction, volcanoes emitting global expanses of noxious compounds, earthquakes indiscriminately destroying and re-shaping the landscape and environments, solar storms and meteors attacking from space etc.etc. Nature seems programmed on a path of self destruction. The human footprint is so small and insignificant by comparison to the natural destruction it brings on itself.
    Sometimes I wonder if we (humans), being part of nature, could be just part of this natural destructive process which nature brings upon itself to change/evolve and survive?
    I’m really interested to know if you have any thoughts along these lines and how you reconcile them.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 3:01pm on 07 Feb 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To timjenvey:

    Yes, thoughts along those lines - for sure.

    We're into the realm of philosopy now. Why are we here, and if there is a Creator, or, as the science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon wrote in his 1937 classic "Star Maker", are we in some sense a fractal of the Whole? He didn't use the term fractal, I don't think it had been coined yet. But he was thinking about he and his wife and children, and, looking up into the infinity of the night sky, and he wondered, maybe his 'little' life, and that of his family, were indeed an accurate expression of the complex and in many ways self-similar system we know as the universe, and not so little after all? God within, I suppose. What thinking human being has not wondered, in fear and awe?

    But to my new way of thinking, produced I think from the experience of seven years devoted to the climbing of mountains, but in a gentle way, well, thinking too much is simply not good for the human being. Not if the balance provided by direct interaction with nature is missing.

    It is all so clear out in the mountains. The things you speak of are all there for the careful observer; the recent passing of a forest fire, the rock slide which obliterated the town and its people below, etc... But they make sense, and are not awful when you are a part of it physically, with your life, and those of perhaps your companions, dependent upon your good judgement. One FEELS the power within, the God-given ability to exercise that most valuable of all mountain skills - good judgement.

    In the boardrooms and government panels and scientific laboratories of the world, men and women are not at their best, in my opinion. There is even a physiological and psycholgical basis for this direct observation. Our endocrine systems, our physical and mental structures, they are designed for use in the at times dangerous outdoors. I think we moderns are very much in the 'use it or lose it' scenario, and for the most part, we have lost it. How else to explain the wanton destruction of the very air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.

    It has truly seemed to me that civilized human beings, embedded in our modern world, are at the very least neurotic, and effectively, as a group, suffering from what can only be described as a form of mass depression. This renders us, at our best, highly informed, perhaps compassionate, but effectively impotent. Impotent is a powerful word, for it leads inevitably to extinction.

    I'm not sure how many people realize that operating in the outdoors, with your life at some risk, promotes quick and accurate decision making in our chemical brain? Endorphins and their derivatives and couisins are our natural drugs - they make us feel good, to warn us of danger, and they are designed to keep us alive, at least most of the time.

    Funny, you know, I was intending to discuss ocean acidification, but this is better. It's people who are important to people, in a sane world. We have put ourselves at risk of catastrophic demise, and possibly even extinction.

    I'd like to see us all climbing mountains, and returning saner and wiser.


    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 3:24pm on 07 Feb 2009, manysummits wrote:

    Addendum to timjenvey:

    I was just wondering, as I contemplated my last post to you, and as I sat in bed beside my sleeping son, and the first light from our home star made its way into our room, perhaps this environmental crisis is in some sense a test - to see if we are worthy?

    We have now expanded to our 'limits to growth', like any natural system. With our technological prowess, we are in a position to fulfill our destiny - perhaps to colonize the solar system and tap its material and energy. But we lack humility, I think.

    We are responsible for the problems we now face, though many of us are still in denial. Isn't it time to grow up, and act responsibly as well?

    We broke it - lets fix it.

    From Calgary!!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 04:53am on 08 Feb 2009, TJ wrote:

    To manysummits:

    Thank you so much for your considered reply. I'm new to this blogging and I've found this site a nice introduction.
    I see you are in Calgary so I guess you climb in the eastern Rockies from there. I worked in Edmonton for a few months and took a few very memorable drives.
    You interestingly mention that we are now in the realm of philosophy. That sparked my thoughts that in past times the study of nature and our environment was called "Natural Philosophy". It was morphed into "Science" where I think it has lost its depth and meaning. Science is all about practical things and it does a great job at putting natural things in a box and turn them into usefulness. I liken it to bits and bytes in a computer programs creating virtual worlds. Like play stations which break us from reality.
    I think by associating science alongside the environment as the BBC does lessens the appreciation that we have been sharing about natural things. I have written to Richard suggesting that “Environment and Nature” would work and “Science and Technology” would work. He says I’m not alone suggesting this.
    I’m not a mountaineer but a couple of times a week I enjoy running in the hills behind where I live. With the adrenalin pumping life takes on a wonderful deep presences. Computer models and virtual worlds eat your hearts out.!!
    Thanks again for taking time to reply.

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 4:21pm on 08 Feb 2009, JRWoodman wrote:

    I've enjoyed reading what's been said here, and I understand totally where you're coming from, both timjenvey and manysummits. However, knowing that others will read this I would prefer not to become too spiritual. So I'll stick to facts.

    The physical world is often harsh. Without change, life withers and dies. Life has evolved to cope with it, deal with it and indeed benefit from it. For instance, some beetles rely for forest fires for their reproductive cycles, while some plants use the same conditions to trigger propagation. What might seem impossibly severe to humans is life-giving to other species.

    Throughout their existence humans have been caught up with change and indeed, by their very existence, cause change. It's just that now, through our very numbers, we're becoming just too influential. However, nature has mechanisms for dealing with us. Mechanisms that have no emotion and do not prioritise our existence over that of any other living creatures.

    Unfortunately this subject is too big to discuss here, but by coincidence James Lovelock has published a superb article in today's Sunday Times. It's well worth reading. Can I suggest you Google... times online lovelock "to get aboard" (including the quotation marks)? It's a UK-centric article but I think you'll find it a very valuable read.

    Best wishes, JR

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 7:28pm on 08 Feb 2009, manysummits wrote:

    To JRWoodman, and to everyone:

    I just read the article by James Lovelock:

    Thanks for directing us to it JR.

    I had just posted a blog in the 'shark' article this morning. There I described my impressions of two "Nature" articles I have just read. Fear and humility was what I saw in those articles.

    That would be what I see in James Lovelock's article. Nevertheless, it is an indication of the exponentially growing perception of the danger we are in, and I concur with the state of affairs.

    But not with the plan of action. That disagreement is straight from the heart, and not a well thought out statement.

    We need courage now, not resignation. We are obviously in for a fight for our lives. Many other species will share our fate, for better or for worse.

    I am at the core of my being a mountaineer, an explorer, a scientist, a father and husband, and these professions are all complementary and synergistic.

    We need now what another British writer, a man by the name of Robert Louis Stenvenson, once described in a community of artists - we need "devotion" to a cause, and we will find, in that devotion, "something worthy".

    More late - from Calgary

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 01:44am on 09 Feb 2009, manysummits wrote:

    A Time for Heroes??

    Re: The James Lovelock article referred to in comments # 15 and 16:

    "Claret for boys, port for men, but apricot brandy for heroes."

    So went the light-hearted toast high on the slopes of Nanda Devi in 1936. Bill Tilman, another British citizen, and a small group were about to complete their ascent of the highest mountain then climbed. This coming February 14 would be Himal Bill's one hundred and first birthday. I may be found with a glass of apricot brandy in my hand this coming Saturday, to toast the life and times of this mountaineer, sailor, brilliant writer and genuine hero of two world wars.

    One of my dictionaries gives the derivation of hero as possibly from the Indo-European ser-, "to watch over, protect." I like that, for I agree with Lene Gammelgard, of the 1996 Everest debacle, who said: "The hero symbolizes the human personality with its powers in focus."

    Perhaps, as the severity of the global environmental crisis dawns upon more and more of us, perhaps it is time for a new type of specialist to emerge, to step forward. For the archetypal hero to act, to lend us his or her strength - to watch over and protect? And for the neurotic civilized human being of the twenty-first century to get real and grow up.

    We appear to have run out of time to avert a warmer planet. Undoubtedly we will have to adapt. But we must do more, I think, if we are to retain our honor and humanity.

    It is definitely not the time to circle the wagons around our now rather pathetic looking countries. No, I think it is time to see our planet with modern and mature eyes. Spaceship Earth springs to mind. Not only would we be guilty of crimes against humanity were we to jump in our metaphorical lifeboats, the world left after this exodus of the rats would be a truly soul destroying place.

    Luckily we have the internet, and the view from space of our home planet. One planet, one people, and an awful lot of related lifeforms, creatures great and small, depending on us.

    To JRWoodman:

    Spiritual matters, JR. You struck another chord. I have long wondered why I gave up all to devote myself to the climbing of mountains. I think I just found a way to summarize this profound experience.

    It was a 'spiritual exercise'. The "contemplatio in actiones" of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. The "contemplation is the end, action the means", of Aldous Huxley.

    Perhaps I was in a sense adapting in advance to what I have long perceived as the tragedy of the western way, or at least, of large segments of it.

    We may have to rewrite the laws governing our multinational corporations, to reflect this new world we find ourselves in. The well-being and profit motives of the shareholders can no longer take precedence over the interests of the citizens of the planet Earth. In law, today, a corporation is legally obliged to put the shareholder first. This must change. The idea of a corporation as a legal 'person' must change. Right now this legal entity is best described as a 'pathological personality'. ( Joel Baken, professor of Law and author of: "The Corporation."

    As to James Lovelock's many derogatory comments on the efforts of certain countries and businesses to capitalize on this green shift, well, we all know that some are indeed taking advantage, as has always been the case. It is the oldest struggle on Earth, right against wrong.

    But I remember also the peace speech of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (June 10, 1963):

    "For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."

    The learning curve will be steep in the years ahead. Soon everyone will know what ocean pH is and isn't, what it should be and shouldn't be, what CO2 levels were and are.

    For now, lets keep talking. It's a very human thing to do.

    From Calgary, on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 2:19pm on 13 Feb 2009, eleezeeum wrote:

    We need a reorientation of human values. The disproportionate emphasis on the individual and his/her material/monetary wealth must end. Social, environmental values need to be given their rightful place.

    Here is one such thought:

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 08:51am on 15 Feb 2009, Maurizio Morabito wrote:

    Does anybody know why Vicky Pope writing against exaggerations in The Guardian deserves no mention at all in the BBC News website, whilst Chris Field spouting out exaggerations at the AAAS conference is the main news on the main page of the BBC News website?

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS


Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.