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BBC News Online’s Planet under Pressure series takes a detailed look at six areas where most experts agree that a crisis is brewing:
- Food: An estimated 1 in 6 people suffer from hunger and malnutrition while attempts to grow food are damaging swathes of productive land.
- Water: By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s people are likely to be living in areas of acute water stress.
- Energy: Oil production could peak and supplies start to decline by 2010
- Climate change: The world’s greatest environmental challenge, according to the UK prime minister Tony Blair, with increased storms, floods, drought and species losses predicted.
- Biodiversity: Many scientists think the Earth is now entering its sixth great extinction phase.
- Pollution: Hazardous chemicals are now found in the bodies of all new-born babies, and an estimated one in four people worldwide are exposed to unhealthy concentrations of air pollutants.
All six problems are linked and urgent, so a list of priorities is little help.