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PREFACE - Pg. xiii

xiii Preface As the harsh and highly contentious scientific disputes are finally winding down, there is now little doubt in the scientific community that the world is transitioning to a warmer and more severe climate with less reliable water and energy sources. It is now a scientific certainty that our ecosystems will have less species, our oceans will see increases of acidity and dead zones, and our land will contain less fertile soils. The recent global economic downturn is also adding pressure on the efforts to reduce global warm- ing on a planet that is increasing its population. In less than fifty years the number of human beings on earth has grown from 3 billion to 7 billion, reinforcing the fact that we are in the middle of the most rapid expansion of the world population in our 50,000-year existence, creating phenomenal pressure on both our economy and environment (Think Progress, 2011). The world is entering a very precarious period with significant environmental, energy, and economic challenges. There have been some very interesting linkages and comparisons between the economy and the environment (Yale, 2011a). The premise is fostered by the linguistic root of Eco. "Eco" is derived from the Greek word, oikos, meaning house, or household. Both Ecology and Economy describe the skill of managing or understanding the residence or environment you reside. Unfortunately the debates about economy and ecology today are all centered on the cost of protecting the environment; or the cost of the sustaining the ecological foot- print. The recent Koyoto disagreements highlight how the global economies cannot support a sustainable environment. To understand the linkage between the two, you must first understand how interrelated the two actu- ally are. Looking at the global economy, one of the biggest problems is the debt crisis. The debts of both governments and consumers are completely out of control and data is showing that we are spending much more than we actually have available. According to the USA Reserve's G.19 report on consumer credit, released July 2011, the total U.S. consumer debt is $2.43 trillion. This is not a US only problem. Consumer debt in the United Kingdom (UK) has also soared to an all time high. In 2011 the National Audit Office revealed that personal debt has reached £1.5 ($2.35) trillion mark. This phenomenon is turning out to be unsustainable and consumers in many countries are following this disastrous trend. This problem is not isolated to individuals; governments are also in the same predicament. The debt problems governments such as the US, Greece, Italy, and Ireland face are well publicized. The problem is compounded by the tight interconnection of the global financial system. When one country defaults on its sovereign debt. Peripheral private debt becomes at risk in other countries and banking systems of creditor nations encounter significant losses. For example, in October 2011, Italian borrowers owed French banks $366 billion (net). This global economic crisis being played out in 2012 is analogous to the environmental crisis. We are using far more resources than we can afford to take from the environment. Although each country decides and sets limits on emissions, fishing, logging, and fresh water access, the fact that the environment, just like the economy, are interrelated makes a mockery of the whole process.