National Geographic : 2002 Sep
of progress signs Green Thinking A new sensitivity to humanity's impact on the environment has triggered corrective actions by individuals and governments alike since Rio. Efforts include the 1997 conference in Kyoto, Japan, with its agreement among most industrialized nations to reduce global emis sions. The U.S . government has withdrawn its support, citing potential harm to the economy. Meanwhile, Internet and mobile phone communications facili tate grassroots environmental efforts by a growing international network of activists. The Johan nesburg Summit marks the latest call for nations to heed environmental threats. Alternative Transportation Gasoline-electric hybrid cars are already reducing carbon dioxide emissions in Japan, Europe, and the U.S . Innovators at Colo rado's Hypercar, Inc., are trying to eliminate all such vehicle emissions. One of their automo bile designs is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that creates emissions you can drink: pure Corporations Clean Up Big business is realizing that conservation may help the bot tom line. Xerox's Waste Free program recycled 80 percent of the nonhazardous solid waste generated by the corporation's factories in 2000. It also kept 158 million pounds of electron ics waste out of landfills through remanufacturing. Saving several hundred million dollars a year, Xerox has been applauded by environmental groups for proving that sustainability is good for DAIMLERCHRYSLER NECAR5: REUTERSNEWMEDIAINC., CORBIS(LEFT); COSTARICANRAINFORESTFRANSLANTING,MINDENPICTURES 106 Am water. And the Segway Human Transporter, a gyroscope balanced electric vehicle, is a new spin on individual mobility. Ban on the Dirty Dozen At a United Nations conference in Stockholm in 2001, a treaty was adopted to control 12 carbon-based, chlorinated chemicals. Aimed at cleaner air and water, the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants calls for restriction or elimina tion of chemicals such as chlordane, DDT, and PCBs. A 1987 ban on CFCs, or chloro fluorocarbons, which destroy Earth's protective ozone layer, has stopped further release of these compounds. Ecotourism The U.S. - based International Ecotourism Society describes ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people." With an annual growth rate estimated as high as 30 percent, ecotourism and its projected profits have prompted governments across the developing world to protect natural areas as well as tradi tional cultures. But skeptics warn that ecotourism is often more a marketing ploy than a sign of a sensitive environ mental approach.