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Some Old Business for the New Year : Another year means another round of global counter-punching against well-known, solution-resistant and often worsening crises that usually demand more attention and resources than individual or collective governments are able--or willing--to give them. Here, in no particular order, are some of the issues for the new year. :

January 01, 1991|WILLIAM D. MONTALBANO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

World Hunger--On five continents, a relative handful of rich people worry a great deal about eating too much, and hardly at all about the international majority that lacks means enough to eat enough.

Immigration--Western Europeans and prospering Asians discover anew what Americans have known for a long time: The easier poor neighbors find it to travel, the more of them will come hoping to stay and share the wealth.

Environment--The more we learn about the modern world, the more we realize it is dying: acid rain, smog, toxic waste, filthy cities and dirty seas, vanishing rainforests, desertification, holes in the ozone and the fear of nuclear power supplanting fear of nuclear war. Ask again in '91: That's progress?

Antarctic--Does the world finally decide to preserve the last ecological paradise? Or will mineral- and oil-rich Antarctica, too, fall prey to greedy, befouling exploiters?

Drugs--Don't be surprised as killer crops of South American cocaine and Asian heroin, street corner standbys in the U.S., expand further into rich new European markets, mocking failing attempts everywhere to control them.

AIDS--Pray for a '91 laboratory breakthrough that will finally brake the new and stealthy plague that may claim 20 million lives by century's end.

Technology--What will they think of next?

Terrorism--Denouement in the gulf may provoke new anti-Western spectaculars, but old-line terrorist groups are hurting for sponsors and safe havens.

International Economy--The next smart person you meet, ask him how come, if the United States is truly the last superpower, the dollar buys so little abroad.

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