A ‘crossroads’ for humanity: Earth’s biodiversity is still collapsing

According to a comprehensive United Nations release on Tuesday, the world fails to detect a terrible biodiversity that threatens to eliminate not only the beloved species and the invaluable genetic diversity, but also humanity’s food supply, health and safety It also puts danger.

When governments work to protect and restore nature, the author found, it works. But despite commitments made 10 years ago, nations have not come close to meeting the scale of the crisis, which continues to worsen due to continued farming, overpopulation, burning of fossil fuels and other activities.

“Humanity stands at a crossroads,” the report said.

This comes as a disastrous result that could be the result of an unhealthy relationship with nature on full display: an epidemic that is very likely to cause bats to live worldwide, and wildlife, climate change and land management policies Have deteriorated, destroying the American West.

“The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity is the Deputy Executive Secretary and the Global Treaty on Evaluation,” said David Cooper, an author of the report. These things will only get worse if we do not change course.

The report looked at a decade of efforts by national governments. In 2010, after painstaking scientific work and difficult negotiations, almost every country in the world signed 20 targets under the Convention to Prevent Biodiversity Bleeding.

At the time, science was already clear: human activity was destroying animals and plants across the planet, creating a wave of extinction and throwing ecosystems out of balance, so that the domino effect caused humans to find themselves Put in danger The agreement, with a 2020 deadline for new targets, was a difficult diplomatic victory.

The report, which assesses progress on 20 targets, finds that the world is doing very little.

“Some progress has been made, but it is not very good,” said United Nations Conference leader Elizabeth Maruma Marema.

With climate change, scientific alarms on the loss of biodiversity have become largely unheard of as the problem intensifies.

Last year, an exhaustive international report concluded that humans rearranged the natural world so fast that a million species of animals and plants were at risk of extinction. This year, the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risk Report identified biodiversity loss as one of the most urgent threats, other than climate change, stating that “human-driven nature and biodiversity loss on our planet Life threatening. ” Last week, a respected index of animal life showed that, on average, the population of about 4,400 monitored mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish had declined 68 percent since 1970.

Globally, out of the 20 goals of the Biodiversity Convention, only six were partially achieved and none were fully achieved.

Destruction of forests, mangroves and grassland habitats was not cut in half. Overfishing did not decrease. Governments did not stop subsidizing fossil fuels, fertilizers and pesticides that are contributing to the biodiversity crisis.

Indeed, the report estimates that governments around the world spend $ 500 billion per year on environmentally harmful initiatives, while total public and private funding for biodiversity came in part of that: $ 80 billion to $ 90 billion. .

“Many governments within the Ministry of the Environment have great ambitions for biodiversity,” said Anne Laigudieri, an ecologist who attended the conference in 2010, with 20 goals. “But they do not have enough power compared to other ministries: agriculture, transport, energy.”

Dr. Lariguderi manages the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Forum on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, an independent intergovernmental organization that provides science on biodiversity loss. Even national leaders who say they understand the crisis said, it is difficult to resist the lobby, short-term interests and their desire for re-election.

167 out of 196 countries submitted national reports on their efforts. The United States did not, because it was not a party to the treaty.

The biggest driver of loss of biodiversity on land is habitat destruction and degradation, mainly due to farming. At sea, the biggest problem is too much. Climate change will play an increasing role as its impact will intensify in the coming years. And the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss are inexhaustible. For example, since trees soak up carbon and help store carbon, cleaning forests accelerates climate change, while restoring them helps reduce it.

“By investing in nature, not only can we reduce extinction, we can help address the climate issue,” Mr. Cooper said. “We can also have healthy landscapes and healthy people.”

Despite the overall failure, the report highlights areas of progress worldwide, showing that people have the power to save and restore nature, not destroy it. Conservation efforts have prevented an estimated 11 to 25 bird and mammal extinctions over the past decade; Without these functions, the researchers calculated, the most likely number would be two to four times greater.

“If you implement the policies, they work,” Mr. Cooper said.

To praise and inspire, reports are linked to success stories big and small. Working with scientists, 20 million Chinese farmers reduced nitrogen content on crops such as rice and wheat, increasing yields. Illegal foreign fishing vessels in Indonesia, Liberia, and Gambia cracked, improving their fish stocks for the benefit of local fishermen. Guatemala rewarded landowners who resettled forests with native species.

But such actions should be greatly enhanced. The scale of the crisis and the sheer number of humans living on the planet mean that conservation alone will not be enough. Instead, the report states, societies must change how they produce and consume food and other commodities. One of the goals addressed this directly: Governments, businesses and stakeholders at all levels had to, at a minimum, take steps to achieve sustainable production and consumption plans. Three-quarters of countries reported their progress; Of those, only a tenth are on track, reports found.

Robert Watson, former chairman of two high-profile panels, one on climate change at the United Nations and one on biodiversity “Our economic and financing systems are all bad.” “We use GDP as a measure of economic growth. It completely neglects nature. It completely disregards human welfare. And so it is a very limited concept. “

Without transformational change, the report states, all humanity will be affected, with indigenous people and the poor the worst.

Scientists say the food supply is at risk of ecosystem degradation, climate change, degradation of pollinators and soil erosion from irrigated farming. The struggle follows a shortage of food and water.

The report calls for eight essential transitions in the way we use the land and the oceans, grow our food, eat, build our cities, manage our fresh water, and more . For example, we should eat less meat and fish, bring nature to cities and stop burning fossil fuels quickly.

With these bold changes, it is not too late to slow down and eventually reverse this crisis, reports found.

“We still need to be on this planet,” Ms. Mrema said. “And we still need this planet for our children.”