Is the environment we have now better than it was in the past, or have things gotten worse? Are we better off than our parents? Why have things changed? Do we really know? Can we know? What will the future look like? Will present trends continue? What will be the quality of air, water, sea, land and the biosphere as a whole for our children and grandchildren? Will the biodiversity of this continent be richer or poorer? Will our climate be the same or will it change?
Most North Americans would incline towards a pessimistic answer to these questions, as evidenced by the 475 responses to a survey posted on the CEC website between September 8th and October 31st 2000. Two-thirds of the respondents believed that the state of the environment would worsen over the next 20 years, even though 81% expressed the view that public commitment to environmental protection and values was growing.