[EDITORIALS]Grab those gas masks

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[EDITORIALS]Grab those gas masks

Without emergency measures to protect the environment, the earth will become desolate in 30 years or so. This gloomy news on the environmental future of the world came from a Global Environment Outlook report released last month in advance of Wednesday's World Environment Day. Korea should also pay heed to the warning that the world is at an environmental crossroads.

Reckless development and destruction of habitats have put 1,130, or 24 percent, of mammal species and 1,183, or 12 percent, of birds under the threat of extinction. The report also predicted that unless humans alter their development strategies, led by advanced nations, 3 percent of the earth's surface would disappear under concrete by 2032, and more than half of the world's population would suffer from water shortages. The natural world, devastated to the extent that animals cannot survive in it, would thus threaten human lives.

In a report to the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg in August, Korea said that the quality of its urban air and water has improved in the past decade. Still, Seoul's pollution with sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide is the fourth and second highest among 15 major cities in Asia. It is a clear manifestation of how serious Korea's air pollution is. Some day, we might have to wear gas masks in the streets. There is also continued destruction of our ecosystems.

Sangam-dong and its surroundings, where there used to be a huge mountain of garbage, has been transformed into a World Cup stadium and an ecological park, staging the world's biggest sporting event. Many visitors there are surprised to see the model case of environmental recovery that befits the World Environment Day's theme, "Give Earth a Chance."

Under the slogan of an "environmental World Cup," the government has asked citizens to work together to make the soccer event a clean and pleasant experience. If 50,000 spectators spare one disposable paper cup per person, they can reduce one ton of trash and help save 20 trees. We urge citizens to participate in the "environmental World Cup" campaign.

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