Condition Critical

An exclusive look at a U.N. assessment of Earth's ecosystems shows they are strained to the limit

For more than 40 years, earth has been sending out distress signals. At first they were subtle, like the thin shells of bald-eagle eggs that cracked because they were laced with DDT. Then the signs were unmistakable, like the pall of smoke over the Amazon rain forest, where farmers and ranchers set fires to clear land. Finally, as the new millennium drew near, it was obvious that Earth's pain had become humanity's pain. The collapse of the North Atlantic cod fishery put 30,000 Canadians out of work and ruined the economies of 700 communities. Two years ago, deforestation worsened China's floods,...

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