Making Things Happen in Rio

This planet -- once described by Lewis Thomas as "hanging there in space and obviously alive" -- is showing disturbing vital signs. The symptoms include accelerating deforestation and loss of species, and growing atmospheric pollution by greenhouse gases and the ozone-eating chlorofluorocarbons (CFCS). The full list is familiar. The causes are rooted in our growing numbers and the complexities of society's interaction with the natural world upon which we depend.

This week the largest international meeting in history, let alone just on the subject of the environment, will convene in Rio de Janeiro, replete with 100 heads of state and a...

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