The most comprehensive report of its kind just released today, the “Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) summary,” describes a catastrophic and urgent environmental crisis whereby ecosystems are deteriorating more rapidly than earlier thought. This landmark UN report warns that up to 1 million species are on the verge of extinction.
“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
“The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”
“The member States of IPBES Plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good,” Watson said.
The report is based on thousands of scientific studies and provides the “most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization.”
NYT: Civilization Is Accelerating Extinction and Altering the Natural World at a Pace ‘Unprecedented in Human History’
The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year.
Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”
In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”
At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in.
As the NYT reports, the IPBES Global Assessment is not the first to sound the alarm on the existential threat the climate crisis poses, but “it goes further by detailing how closely human well-being is intertwined with the fate of other species.”
“For a long time, people just thought of biodiversity as saving nature for its own sake,” said Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services,which conducted the assessment at the request of national governments. “But this report makes clear the links between biodiversity and nature and things like food security and clean water in both rich and poor countries.“
The IPBES Global Assessment warns that piecemeal efforts are no longer sufficient. The climate crisis is so severe that it demands transformative changes.
Despite progress to conserve nature and implement policies, the Report also finds that global goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors. With good progress on components of only four of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, it is likely that most will be missed by the 2020 deadline. Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems will undermine progress towards 80% (35 out of 44) of the assessed targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, related to poverty, hunger, health, water, cities, climate, oceans and land (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 13, 14 and 15). Loss of biodiversity is therefore shown to be not only an environmental issue, but also a developmental, economic, security, social and moral issue as well.
“To better understand and, more importantly, to address the main causes of damage to biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people, we need to understand the history and global interconnection of complex demographic and economic indirect drivers of change, as well as the social values that underpin them,” said Prof. Brondízio. “Key indirect drivers include increased population and per capita consumption; technological innovation, which in some cases has lowered and in other cases increased the damage to nature; and, critically, issues of governance and accountability. A pattern that emerges is one of global interconnectivity and ‘telecoupling’ – with resource extraction and production often occurring in one part of the world to satisfy the needs of distant consumers in other regions.”
If we are to survive and meet the greatest challenges of our time we must ignore those who deride the idea of transformative change.
We find ourselves today in much the same place, confronted by an array of emergencies—seemingly disparate, but in fact closely connected—that threatens to destroy us. Braced against them is a set of ideas put forward in a congressional resolution by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (the notorious AOC), a twenty-nine-year-old freshman congresswoman, and her young, ad hoc brain trust. They have put into words the growing convictions of many over the years that we cannot go on the way we have been if we are to survive and continue to keep our liberties. It is altogether fitting and proper that this effort has been named the Green New Deal, for it seeks to draw what worked best from the original New Deal and to learn from its mistakes. How well we do in putting its ideas, goals, and promises into effect will determine what our world will be like for a very long time to come.
Trump’s Secretary of State, Pompeo, who has ties to big oil and gas, declared today that the climate crisis offers a business opportunity for multinational oil and gas corporations:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo celebrated the climate crisis during the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, stating, “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade.” Last week, the Trump administration tried to remove any mention of climate change from the Arctic Council’s declaration, and when asked on Sunday about how he would rank the climate crisis among national security threats, Pompeo reportedly said, “I can’t rank it.”
After Pompeo’s confirmation as Secretary of State last year, it was revealed that his ties to multinational oil and gas companies was even more pervasive than initially reported.
Pompeo’s comments follow on a slew of reports on the dangers of the climate crisis, including the release of a new UN report this morning that found that human activity is putting one million species at risk of extinction within decades; the U.S. Department of Defense warning that the climate crisis is a national security issue and, if it continues unchecked, threatens both coastal and inland military bases; and Trump’s own EPA findingthat the climate crisis will cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars each year by the end of the century.
“Mike Pompeo’s willfully ignorant and dangerous remarks on the climate crisis are just the latest example of Donald Trump and his administration burying their heads in the sand and needlessly putting American lives at risk."