UN Report Warns of Threat to Biodiversity
An environmental report released by the United Nations on Monday warned of drastically declining biodiversity around the world, urging the world’s governments to take strong action to address climate change. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment concluded that nearly one million species were on the verge of extinction, which could have major implications for humans as well.
One hundred and forty-five experts authored the 1,500 page report, drawing from over ten thousand scientific studies. One hundred and thirty-three Nations’ Representatives to the UN voted to release a summary of the report this Monday, and the full report is expected to be released sometime this year.
One of the biggest findings of the report is that in most major land habitats, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent. The authors of the report attribute this fall to human activity, especially since the majority of this decline has occurred since 1900.
The report also warns that humans are speeding up this decline in global biodiversity with global warming. The authors project the loss of biodiversity to accelerate through 2050 unless there are major efforts to curb global warming by major governments.
The report states that the doubling of greenhouse gasses in Earth’s atmosphere since 1980 has raised the average global temperature by 0.7 degrees Celsius. If the global temperature continues to rise even by two degrees Celsius, major ecosystems may be devastated. For example, coral reefs could be diminished by 99 percent.
The report also outlined the effect of the collapse in biodiversity on humans. The panel’s chairman Robert Watson stated that the decline in diversity is eroding “the foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.” For the example of coral reefs, their erosion has great potential to cause a collapse in commercial and indigenous fisheries, affecting billions of people who rely on seafood for protein and other nutrition.
However, Dr. Watson also stated that it is not too late for change. Watson stated that “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably... By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”
Dr. Watson also acknowledged the global forces with interests vested in the status quo, which may prevent measures to address the earth’s declining biodiversity.