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  • Nearly half of land and marine ecosystems have been compromised by human interference in the last 50 years.

    Nearly half of land and marine ecosystems have been compromised by human interference in the last 50 years. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 27 April 2019
Opinion

The report said three-quarters of land surfaces, 40 percent of the marine environment and 50 percent of inland waterways across the globe have been "severely altered."

According to a leaked draft of a United Nations (U.N.) report, declines in clean air, resources of drinkable water, CO2-absorbing forests, pollinating insects, protein-rich fish and storm-blocking mangroves could cause the extinction of up to one million species.

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"If we're going to have a sustainable planet that provides services to communities around the world, we need to change this trajectory in the next ten years, just as we need to do that with climate," former member of the U.N. climate and biodiversity bodies and WWF chief scientist Rebecca Shaw, pointed out.

Nearly half of land and marine ecosystems have been compromised by human interference in the last 50 years.

The decline of a number of species are already trending "tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years," the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report noted.

The report also said three-quarters of land surfaces, 40 percent of the marine environment and 50 percent of inland waterways across the globe have been "severely altered," and highlighted that more than two billion people rely on wood fuel for energy, four billion rely on natural medicines, and more than 75 percent of global food crops require some kind of animal pollination.

"Half-a-million to a million species are projected to be threatened with extinction, many within decades," the IPBES explained.

"There are also two big indirect drivers of biodiversity loss and climate change -- the number of people in the world and their growing ability to consume," Robert Watson, chair of the U.N.-mandated body that compiled the report, stated.

Experts have long announced that a mass extinction event, the sixth in the last half-billion years, is already underway and one-quarter of cataloged animal and plant species are already being crowded, eaten or poisoned out of existence.

"We need to recognize that climate change and loss of Nature are equally important, not just for the environment, but as development and economic issues as well," Watson told AFP.

"The way we produce our food and energy is undermining the regulating services that we get from Nature," he said, adding that only "transformative change" can stem the damage.

Contents of the report will be reviewed by delegates from some 130 countries at a meeting in Paris on April 29. However, the figures are not subjected to change.

The full 1,800-page report is scheduled to be released on May 9.

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