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Public health campaigns have eradicated smallpox and nearly eliminated polio. Other terrible diseases have emerged, however, most notably acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is now the fourth most common cause of death worldwide. Forty million people are now infected with HIV—70% percent of them in subSaharan Africa—and health experts warn that unsanitary blood donation practices and spreading drug use in Asia may result in tens of millions more AIDS deaths in the next few decades.

Is our profligate use of fossil fuels, for example, justified by the fact that we have technology to extract fossil fuels and enjoy their benefits? Will human lives in the future be impoverished by the fact that we have used up most of the easily available oil, gas, and coal? Author and social critic Wendell Berry suggests that our consumption of these resources constitutes a theft of the birthright and livelihood of posterity. Philosopher John Rawls advocates a “just savings principle” in which members of each generation may consume no more than their fair share of scarce resources.

Acetone is also found in the atmo3 Environmental Encyclopedia 3 Acid and base The basic mechanisms of acid deposition. (Illustration by Wadsworth Inc. ) sphere as an oxidation product of both natural and anthropogenic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It has a strong smell and taste, and is soluble in water. The evaporation point of acetone is quite low compared to water, and the chemical is highly flammable. Because it is so volatile, the acetone manufacturing process results in a large percentage of the compound entering the atmosphere.

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