Here’s a report from the U.N. based on input from a huge number of nations as well as scientific measurements. While futures forecasts aren’t guarantees, and while I try to avoid alarmism – as it inhibits our capacity to simply address and solve problems – the report does provide a perspective about the breadth of what’s happening, and about specific areas that most need to be assessed and addressed.
• • • • • • • •
Nature’s ‘alarming’ decline threatens food, water, energy: U.N.
March 23, 2018
OSLO (Reuters) – Human activities are causing an alarming decline in the variety of plant and animal life on Earth and jeopardizing food, clean water and energy supplies, a U.N.-backed study of biodiversity said on Friday.
Climate change will become a steadily bigger threat to biodiversity by 2050, adding to damage from pollution and forest clearance to make way for agriculture, according to more than 550 experts in a set of reports approved by 129 governments.
The authors wrote, after talks in Colombia …
“Biodiversity, the essential variety of life-forms
on earth, continues to decline in every region
of the world. This alarming trend endangers
the quality of life of people everywhere.”
Four regional reports covered the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Europe and Central Asia – all areas of the planet except the poles and the high seas.
For the Americas, the report estimated that the value of nature to people – such as crops, wood, water purification or tourism – was at least $24.3 trillion a year, equivalent to the region’s gross domestic product from Alaska to Argentina.
Almost two-thirds of those natural contributions were in decline in the Americas, it said.
Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), said biodiversity was not only about saving rare butterflies, trees, birds or rhinos. While that was important, he told Reuters a key message was:
“Please stop thinking of biodiversity
just as an environmental issue.
It’s way more important than that”.
ELEPHANTS AND MOSSES
Among other economic estimates, the Africa report said the absorption of greenhouse gases by a hectare (2.5 acres) of forest in Central Africa was worth $14,000 a year.
Unless governments take strong action to limit greenhouse gas emissions, “climate change may be the biggest threat to biodiversity” by mid-century, Watson said.
He said U.S. delegates had not challenged findings about man-made climate change, although U.S. President Donald Trump doubts mainstream scientific opinion and plans to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
For pollution, eight of 10 rivers around the world with most plastic waste were in Asia. On current trends, overfishing meant …
… there could be no exploitable fish stocks
in the Asia-Pacific region by mid-century.
Around the world, ever more animals and plants were under threat from human activities, ranging from elephants in Africa to rare mosses and snails in Europe, the study said.
Emma Archer of South Africa, the co-chair of the African assessment, said …
“By 2100, climate change could …
result in the loss of more than half
of African bird and mammal species.”
Rising human populations in many developing nations would require new policies, both to protect nature and to meet U.N. goals of eradicating poverty and hunger by 2030.
In Europe and Central Asia, wetlands have declined by half since 1970, threatening many species.
Amid the gloom, there were some bright spots.
Forest cover had risen by 22.9 percent in China and other nations in northeast Asia between 1990 and 2015. Parks and other protected areas were expanding in many regions, including the Americas and Asia-Pacific.
And populations of animals such as the Iberian lynx, Amur tiger and far eastern leopard were coming back from the brink of extinction thanks to conservation.
• • • • • • • •
Now, what does this report suggest for each of us?
Each and every human has a responsibility to protect the Earth. The question always arises: “What should we do, on an individual basis?” Here are some ideas …
- Plant trees, bushes, etc. on your own land.
- Support organizations that protect lands that are left in their natural state … in the wild. Such as: National parks (There is a non-profit that supports national parks.); State parks; Nature Conservancy set-asides; or any local land trusts.
- If there are no land trusts in your region, think about starting one. On some sites, you can create a Conservation District – as we did at Garden Atriums – which protects that land in perpetuity.
- If your state has “green zone” or “green belts,” find out how you can support them by adding land or planting trees.
Biodiversity is best achieved by leaving land in its wild state, which may include having to take out invasive, non-native species. But it is worth the time.
Climate is changing. Some areas will become warmer, but others cooler. Some may get more rain, some less. Some areas might get more sun; some might get less. Some places may lose land due to rising seas. In short … you may need to relocate to places that have the climate you desire.
Protecting biodiversity will at least preserve bees and birds for pollinating, so we can produce the foods we need.
Grasses and shell fish, such as clams, filter water and keep it clean.
Trees and plants filter air so we can breathe … and see the stars.
And the birds will continue to sing; joy is essential to our human quality-of-life experience.