Losses of biomass through deforestation and the cutting down of tropical forests put our supply of oxygen (O2) gas at risk. The Earth's forests did not use to play a dominant role in maintaining O2 reserves because they consume just as much of this gas as they produce. Today forests are being destroy at an astronomical rate. No O2 is created after a forest is put down, and more CO2 is produced in the process. In the tropics, ants, termites, bacteria, and fungi eat nearly the entire photosynthetic O2 product. Only a tiny fraction of the organic matter they produce accumulates in swamps and soils or is carried down the rivers for burial on the sea floor. The O2 content of our atmosphere is slowly declining. The content of the atmosphere decreased at an average annual rate of 2 parts per million. The atmosphere contains 210,000 parts per million. Combustion of fossil fuels destroys O2. For each 100 atoms of fossil-fuel carbon burned, about 140 molecules of O2 are consumed.
Scientists will need to become more involved in assessing the viability of response options aimed at storing excess carbon in terrestrial or ocean systems. Land use changes from agricultural to forest ecosystems can help to remove carbon from the atmosphere at rates of 2 to 20 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year for periods of 50 years or more, until a new ecosystem equilibrium is reached. Similarly, soil conservation practices can help build up carbon reservoirs in forest and agricultural soils. Proposals to extract CO2 from smoke stacks and dispose of it in liquid form in underground reservoirs or deep oceans also need careful evaluation in terms of long-term feedbacks, effectiveness and environmental acceptability. However, much remains to be learned about the biological and physical processes by which terrestial and ocean systems can act as sinks and permanent reservoirs for carbon.
The Global Community can contribute in evaluating options and strategies for adapting to climate change as it occurs, and in identifying human activities that are even now maladapted to climate. There are two fundamental types of response to the risks of climate change:
1. reducing the rate and magnitudes of change through mitigating the causes, and
Mitigating the causes of global warming implies limiting the rates and magnitudes of increase in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, either by reducing emissions or by increasing sinks for atmospheric CO2. Reducing the harmful consequences can be achieved by co-operating together with the global ministries on climate change and emergencies. The Global Community has created the global ministries to help humanity be prepared to fight the harmful consequences of a global warming through anticipatory adaptation. The global ministries on climate change and emergencies are now operating. The ministries have developed:
1. policy response to the consequences of the global warming, and
The Global Community also proposes that all nations of the world promote the Scale of Human and Earth Rights and the criteria to obtain the Global Community Citizenship. Every global community citizen lives a life with the higher values described in the Scale and the criteria. Global community citizens are good members of the human family. Most global problems, including global warming and world overpopulation, can be managed through acceptance of the Scale and the criteria.
We need to improve on our ability to:
* predict future anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. While demographic, technological and economic factors are in many respects inherently speculative, better observations and understanding of the processes by which human activities directly or indirectly contribute to emissions are clearly required. These in particular include emissions from deforestation and agricultural activities;
Comprehensive population policies are an essential element in a world development strategy that combines access to reproductive health services, to education and economic opportunities, to improved energy and natural resource technologies, and to healthyer models of consumption and the "good life."
Policies to decrease world population:
The vast disparities in reproductive health worldwide and the greater vulnerability of the poor to reproductive risk point to several steps all governments can take, with the support of other sectors, to improve the health of women and their families:
More and more young people on every continent want to start bearing children later in life and to have smaller families than at any time in history. Likewise, in greater proportions than ever, women and girls in particular want to go to school and to college, and they want to find fulfilling and well-paid employment. Helping people in every country obtain the information and services they need to put these ambitions into effect is all that can be done, and all that needs to be done, to bring world population growth to a stable landing in the new century.