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Population Summit of the World's Scientific Academies (1993)

Chapter: Qulaity of Life and The Environment

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Suggested Citation:"Qulaity of Life and The Environment." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 1993. Population Summit of the World's Scientific Academies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9148.
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of development. If all people of the world consumed fossil fuels and other natural resources at the rate now characteristic of developed countries (and with current technologies), this would greatly intensify our already unsustainable demands on the biosphere. Yet development is a legitimate expectation of less developed and transitional countries.

THE EARTH IS FINITE

he growth of population over the last half century was for a time matched by similar world-wide increases in utilizable resources. However, in the last decade food production from both land and sea has declined relative to population growth. The area of agricultural land has shrunk, both through soil erosion and reduced possibilities of irrigation. The availability of water is already a constraint in some countries. These are warnings that the earth is finite, and that natural systems are being pushed ever closer to their limits.

QUALITY OF LIFE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

ur common goal is improving the quality of life for all people, those living today and succeeding generations, ensuring their social, economic, and personal well-being with guarantees of fundamental human rights; and allowing them to live harmoniously with a protected environment. We believe that this goal can be achieved, provided we are willing to undertake the requisite social change. Given time, political will, and intelligent use of science and technology, human ingenuity can remove many constraints on improving human welfare worldwide, finding substitutes for wasteful practices, and protecting the natural environment.

But time is short and appropriate policy decisions are urgently needed.

Suggested Citation:"Qulaity of Life and The Environment." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 1993. Population Summit of the World's Scientific Academies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9148.
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The ability of humanity to reap the benefits of its ingenuity depends on its skill in governance and management, and on strategies for dealing with problems such as widespread poverty, increased numbers of aged persons, inadequate health care and limited educational opportunities for large groups of people, limited capital for investment, environmental degradation in every region of the world, and unmet needs for family planning services in both developing and developed countries. In our judgement, humanity's ability to deal successfully with its social, economic, and environmental problems will require the achievement of zero population growth within the lifetime of our children.

HUMAN REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

he timing and spacing of pregnancies are important for the health of the mother, her children, and her family. Most maternal deaths are due to unsafe practices in terminating pregnancies, a lack of readily available services for high-risk pregnancies, and women having too many children or having them too early and too late in life.

Millions of people still do not have adequate access to family planning services and suitable contraceptives. Only about one-half of married couples of reproductive age are currently practicing contraception. Yet as the director-general of UNICEF put it, “Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race”. Existing contraceptive methods could go far toward alleviating the unmet need if they were available and used in sufficient numbers, through a variety of channels of distribution, sensitively adapted to local needs.

But most contraceptives are for use by women, who consequently bear the risks to health. The development of contraceptives for male use continues to lag. Better contraceptives are needed for both men and women, but developing new contraceptive approaches is slow and

Suggested Citation:"Qulaity of Life and The Environment." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 1993. Population Summit of the World's Scientific Academies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9148.
×
Page 7
Suggested Citation:"Qulaity of Life and The Environment." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 1993. Population Summit of the World's Scientific Academies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9148.
×
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