Tuesday, August 16, 2005


On her recent mission in space, Commander Eileen Collins said astronauts on shuttle Discovery had seen widespread environmental destruction on Earth and warned that greater care was needed to protect natural resources.

"Sometimes you can see how there is erosion, and you can see how there is deforestation. It's very widespread in some parts of the world," Collins said. "We would like to see, from the astronauts' point of view, people take good care of the Earth and replace the resources that have been used."

Collins noted that the view from space revealed that Earth's atmosphere must also be protected.

"The atmosphere almost looks like an eggshell on an egg, it's so very thin," she said. "We know that we don't have much air, we need to protect what we have."

Commander Collins' words should give pause to all world leaders. China is an area of particular concern.

According to the World Bank, China is home to 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities. Three hundred thousand Chinese citizens die prematurely each year due to respiratory illness, and the life expectancy of a traffic cop in Beijing is approximately 40 years.

Acid rain has damaged a quarter of Chinese soil, and more than a quarter of their landmass has been turned into desert as a result of erosion and logging.

Following the US, China is the world's second largest greenhouse gas polluter. The UN reported that Chinese emissions nearly doubled from 1994 to 2002, and the problem is only getting worse.

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