The health of an economy cannot be separated from that of its natural support systems. More than half the world's people depend directly on croplands, rangelands, forests, and fisheries for their livelihoods. Many more depend on forest product industries, leather goods industries, cotton and woolen textile industries, and food processing for their jobs.
A strategy for eradicating poverty will not succeed if an economy's environmental support systems are collapsing. If croplands are eroding and harvests are shrinking, if water tables are falling and wells are going dry, if rangelands are turning to desert and livestock are dying, if fisheries are collapsing, if forests are shrinking, and if rising temperatures are scorching crops, a poverty-eradication program -- no matter how carefully crafted and well implemented -- will not succeed.
Restoring the earth will take an enormous international effort, one even larger and more demanding than the often-cited Marshall Plan that helped rebuild war-torn Europe and Japan. And such an initiative must be undertaken at wartime speed lest environmental deterioration translate into economic decline, just as it did for earlier civilizations that violated nature's thresholds and ignored its deadlines.