Comprehension and Discussion Questions. 1. What bolstered optimism and faith of the leading commentators in technology and human progress of the 20th century?

1. What bolstered optimism and faith of the leading commentators in technology and human progress of the 20th century?

2. What are environmental and integrated World economy problems of the 21st century?

3. What are the challenges of the 21st century?

4. What type of a new economy should be designed for the 21st century?

5. How should we act in the 21st century in order to build up an environmentally sustainable economy?


Practical Task

Read through a chosen paragraph and define the most informative words in it.


Text II. The Shape of a New World Economy

As noted earlier, the western industrial development model that has evolved over the last two centuries has raised living standards to undreamed-of levels for one-fifth of humanity. It has provided a remarkably diverse diet, unprecedented levels of material consumption, and physical mobility that our ancestors could not have imagined. But the fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy that developed in the West is not a viable system for the world or even for the West over the long term, because it is destroying its environmental support systems.

    If the Western model were to become the global model, and if world population were to reach 10 billion during the next century, as the United Nations projects, the effect would be starling. If, for example, the world has one car for every two people in 2050, as in the United States today, there would be 5 billion cars. Given the congestion, pollution, and the fuel, material, and land requirements of the current global fleet of 501 million cars, a global fleet of 5 billion is difficult to imagine. If petroleum use per person were to reach the current U.S. level, the world would consume 360 million barrels per day, compared with current production of 67 million barrels.

    On consider a world of 10 billion with everyone following an American diet, centered on the consumption of fat-rich livestock products. Ten billion people would require 9 billion tons of grain, the harvest of more than four planets at Earth’s current output levels. With massive irrigation-water cutbacks in prospect as aquifers are depleted and with the dramatic slowdown in the rise in land productivity since 1990, achieving even relatively modest gains is becoming difficult.

    An economy is environmentally sustainable only if it satisfies the principles of sustainability – principles that are rooted in the science of ecology. In a sustainable economy, the fish catch does not exceed the sustainable yield of fisheries, the amount of water pumped from underground aquifers does not exceed aquifer recharge, soil erosion does not exceed the natural rate of new soil formation, tree cutting does not exceed tree planting, and carbon emissions do not exceed the capacity of nature to fix atmospheric CO2. A sustainable economy does not destroy plant and animal species faster that new ones evolve.

    Once it becomes clear that the existing industrial development model is not viable over the long term, the question becomes, what would an environmentally sustainable economy look like? Because we know the fundamental limits the world now faces and some of the technologies that are available, we can describe this new economy in broad outline, if not in detail. Its foundation is a new design principle – one that shifts from the one-time depletion of natural resources to one that is based on renewable energy and that continually reuses and recycles materials. It is a solar-powered, bicycle/ rail-centered, reuse/ recycle economy, one that uses energy, water, land, and materials much more efficiently and wisely that we do today.

    The challenge in energy is to replace the fossil fuel economy with an efficient solar economy, defining solar energy sources that derive from the sun directly or indirectly. Although solar energy in its various forms has been widely considered a fringe source, it is now moving toward center stage. Wind power, for example, now supplies 7 percent of electricity in Denmark and 23 percent in Spain’s northern region of Navarre, including the capital, Pamplona. More important, however, is the potential. A survey of U.S. wind resources by the Department of Energy concluded that just three states – North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas had enough harnessable wind energy to satisfy national electricity needs. China has enough wind potential to easily double its current electricity generating capacity.


Vocabulary notes

consumption –потребление

viable –жизнеспособный

congestion –сжигание

cutback –сокращение

aquifer ['ækwifə] –водоносный горизонт

renewable energy –возобновляемая энергия

solar-powered economy –экономика на солнечной энергии

recycle economy –экономика на вторсысье

bicycle/ rail-centered economy –бицикличная экономика

to derive –извлекать, получать

a fringe source –источник крайнего использования

harnessable –укрощаемый

capacity –способность, мощность

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