[EDITORIALS]Earth's fate is at stake

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[EDITORIALS]Earth's fate is at stake

The World Summit for Sustainable Development, with leaders of 106 countries participating, started Sunday in Johannesburg. It is our earnest hope that this colossal environment summit does not stop at being a festival of words, but produces concrete measures for improving the world's environmental condition that will be implemented by clear and determined leadership. The pursuit of economic growth and development without consideration for the environment long ago raised warning signs of damage to our planet. Yet not much progress has been made since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Every year, 2.2 million people die because of polluted water and 3 million more succumb to air pollution. This summer's floods in South Korea and several European countries were also due to abrupt changes in the climate, most probably brought by the destruction of the environment.

If the 1992 Rio Summit presented the problems that the world needed to solve, then the Johannesburg meeting should put forward the measures to meet these problems. The success of this meeting will depend on which path the countries choose: a collective effort to mend the problems of the world environment in the recognition that we are all one in this big boat called Earth, or putting individual interest first.

Already, the Kyoto Protocol on the greenhouse gas emissions has fallen into semi-paralysis with the withdrawal of the United States. Only five advanced countries including the Netherlands have provided the promised financial support for developing countries. Should the Johannesburg meeting meet the same dismal fate as the Rio Summit, there is no future for this earth. Advanced and developing countries should all yield one step and cooperate.

We would like to emphasize the role of the advanced countries, especially the United States, not only for the "original sin" of having sought economic development at the cost of the environment but as the leader of the world. A World Bank report warned that existing developmental strategies and attempts to overcome world poverty through economic development could possibly bring the destruction of the world. For everyone's sake, let us hope for the success of the Johannesburg meeting.
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