The Stream, May 20: Environmental Damage Increasing Globally, UNEP Study Finds

The Global Rundown

The rate of environmental degradation is increasing globally, putting at risk both developing and developed countries, according to a United Nations study. Farms in Mexico’s Guanajuato state are drawing down aquifers, creating a public health threat. A presidential candidate in Peru said community support is essential for a massive copper mine project that has faced protests over water. Mines in Chile are scaling back their desalination plans due to poor market conditions. Scientists say billions of dollars are urgently needed to improve water quality and save the Great Barrier Reef. California suspended its mandatory urban water use restrictions.

“Farmers in the Tambo Valley of Cocachacra obviously feel deep distrust, and it will take many years for the company to regain that trust. For me it’s fundamental that an investment project be in harmony with communities.” –Keiko Fujimori, a presidential candidate in Peru, on the proposed $1.4 billion Tia Maria copper mine. The stalled mine has previously faced protests over concerns about water supplies and pollution. (Reuters)

By The Numbers

$10 billion Amount needed over the next decade to stop polluted runoff and improve water quality enough to save the Great Barrier Reef, according to scientists. Guardian

82 percent Proportion of water used by farms in Mexico’s Guanajuato state, where depleted aquifers pose a public health threat to communities. The New York Times

5 desalination projects Number at mines in Chile that were put on hold or downsized over the past four years due to poor market conditions, despite rising water demand. Bloomberg

Science, Studies, And Reports

The standard of living in both developing and developed countries is at risk as the rate of damage to water supplies and other natural resources increases globally, according to an extensive study released by the United Nations Environment Programme. Achim Stenier, UNEP’s executive director, warned “If current trends continue, and the world fails to enact solutions that improve patterns of production and consumption, if we fail to use natural resources sustainably, then the state of the world’s environment will continue to decline.” Guardian

On The Radar

California this week halted mandatory 25 percent water use reductions that the state imposed last year to deal with a severe drought. Though the drought persists, reservoirs and snowpack recovered to some extent over the past winter. The New York Times