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Checking Earth’s vital signs

Helen Palmer Jul 13, 2006


KAI RYSSDAL: Global economic indicators are on the rise, but a new report says the earth itself might be paying the price. The Worldwatch Institute has been taking the economic pulse of the planet for 30 years. Its latest study is just out, and it’s full of superlatives. Helen Palmer reports most of those big words are ominous, but not all of them.

HELEN PALMER: More steel and aluminum were produced than ever before in 2005. Also more cars, more grain and more pesticides. 2005’s global economy was a record too.

ERIC ASSADOURIAN: The total is $59.6 trillion.

But Worldwatch’s Eric Assadourian says there was also record weather-related destruction in 2005. And use of fossil fuels pushed up carbon dioxide levels to a new high.

Assadourian says that trend’s unsustainable. But he finds comfort in another trend:

ASSADOURIAN: Biofuel production is growing very rapidly, as it solar and wind. Solar increased 45 percent in 2005.

Renewables supply less than 20 percent of the world’s energy, but Assadourian says that’ll change, because venture capitalists are keen to invest in them.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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