The energy crisis over oil that rocked the industrial West in the early 1970s is, to some degree, only a distant memory. But in much of the Third World, a fuel crisis is raging out of control. According to a report entitled Fuelwood. The Energy Crisis That Won't Go Away, published by Earthscan (part of the International Institute for Environment and Development, based in London), forests in underdeveloped countries are disappearing faster than they can be replaced. And that in spite of a $100-million-a-year reforestation program sponsored by the World Bank. In many poor nations, firewood supplies more than 90 percent of fuel needs. The main cause of deforestation in the Third World is the creation of new farmland. As new land is cleared of trees to plant badly needed crops, firewood becomes scarce. Animal dung, needed for fertilizer, is increasingly burned for fuel. The resulting poor crops drive farmers to clear still more land, further exacerbating the fuel shortage. The Earthscan report estimates that a 5-to 20-fold increase in tree planting, depending on the area, is required to solve the problem. But such increases, says the report, are "far beyond any realistic possibility" for many countries. Some alternate fuels are available, but only to those who can afford them. For the majority of the Third World , the report concludes: "The depletion of formerly free firewood supplies means that fuel joins food , water and housing on the list of basic needs that are satisfied inadequately and with great trouble." Consequently, "Poor people in much of Africa, Asia and Latin America will be able to cook their meals only at tragic cost for themselves and the environment."
Human Illness Linked To Drugged Livestock
Widespread use of antibiotics to stimulate growth in farm animals is being blamed for the development of drug-resistant bacteria in humans. Nearly 50 percent of the antibiotics made in the United States, for example, are fed to farm animals. In 1983 $270 million worth of antibiotic food additives were sold. Medical scientists have long suspected that animals fed a steady diet of antibiotics with their feed were potential factories for drug-resistant bacteria. Antibiotics destroy weaker strains of bacteria and permit more resilient organisms to flourish . Drug manufacturers and meat producers have long insisted there was no evidence that resistance could be passed from livestock to humans. Recent investigations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, however, have renewed efforts to restrict use of antibiotics for farm animals. New leads emerged from 11 severe cases of salmonella poisoning in Minnesota. All these cases were caused by Salmonella newport, a virulent strain. In each case, the virus showed resistance to several common antibiotics. CDC determined that the salmonella came from beef. Antibiotic resistance was transferred to human bacteria when people ate undercooked meat or became contaminated by raw meat. A clear connection between human diseases and the use of drugs in animal feed had been discovered, concluded B report by Dr. Scott Holmberg in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Computers: Progress Amid Perils
It is the great paradox of this age: Even as technology explodes, world evils multiply. And nowhere has technology progressed more than in the area of computers. It has been four decades since the computer revolution began. In 1946 the University of Pennsylvania completed the first all-purpose, all-electronic digital computer Called ENIAC for short, it weighed 30 tons and required 1,500 square feet (143 square meters) of floor space. ENIAC's creators estimated that the device could perform calculations more than 1,000 times faster than the conventional electromechanical machines of the day. Today, a $2,000 "knee-top" portable computer can perform calculations 20 times as fast as ENIAC. And thanks to the silicon chip, by 1990 a digital wristwatch will have as much computing ability as its ancient predecessor. Indeed, we are in what computer enthusiasts call the "information age." Up to 40 percent of the Western world's work force uses computers, either directly or indirectly. The aggregate computing power of the computers sold during the next two years will be greater than that of the more than one million computers sold in the last four decades. But the more we look to computers to offer solutions to staggering global problems, the greater the number of millions of humans who suffer and die from famine, disease, civil unrest, terrorism and technological accidents. Of course, technology has not by itself caused world evils, but neither can it solve them. As John Naisbitt put it in his best-selling book Megatrends, "We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge." A closer examination of why humanity's technical advances have failed to solve human problems is available in our free booklet Never Before Understood Why Humanity Cannot Solve Its Evils. Just mail the card in this issue or write to our address nearest you.
ENIAC, first electronic computer (1946), weighed 30 tons. Digital wristwatches will soon have as much computing power as ancient ENIAC.
One in Six Has Mental Disorder
About 18.7 percent of U.S. adults-more than one in six-suffer from at least one psychiatric ailment, according to a six-year, $15 million survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. Disabling anxiety, which afflicts 13.1 million Americans, heads the list of disorders that also includes schizophrenia, depression and substance abuse. Men and women are about equally troubled, according to the survey. The survey defined a person with a mental disorder as one needing professional help. In other words, a person with an antisocial personality was not merely someone who lost his temper occasionally, but a person who had serious adjustment problems with family, school and community before the age of 15 and who was often involved in crime and violence afterward. According to institute director Darrel Regier, the study, the largest of its kind ever conducted, may prove fruitful in identifying risk factors in mental disorders.