Time magazine has named the "endangered Earth" its Planet of the Year, departing from its annual Man of the Year designation to call for "a universal crusade to save the planet."
"This year the Earth spoke, like God warning Noah of the deluge," the weekly news magazine said, citing natural and human-caused disasters from earthquakes to overpopulation to pollution of the world's beaches.Since 1927, Time annually has selected the person, group or object that in its editors' views most significantly influenced world events that year. It selected an inanimate object once before - the computer, in 1982.
In the cover article of its Jan. 2 issue, released Saturday, Time warned of a series of impending environmental catastrophes:
-Pollution-caused warming of the atmosphere, known as the "greenhouse effect," threatening weather changes that could flood coastlines and render large areas of the planet infertile and uninhabitable.
-Toxic and radioactive wastes and dumped garbage that could poison drinking water and despoil the land.
-Chemical pollution that is depleting the atmosphere's protective ozone layer.
-Clearing of tropical rain forests, driving thousands of species to extinction.
"Most of these evils had been going on for a long time, and some of the worst disasters apparently had nothing to do with human behavior," Time said. "Yet this year's bout of freakish weather and environmental horror stories seemed to act as a powerful catalyst for worldwide public opinion.
"Everyone suddenly sensed that this gyrating globe, this precious repository of all the life we know of, was in danger. No single individual, no event, no movement captured imaginations or dominated headlines more than the clump of rock and soil and water and air that is our common home."
Added Time: "Now, more than ever, the world needs leaders who can inspire their fellow citizens with a fiery sense of mission, not a nationalistic or military campaign but a universal crusade to save the planet."