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Alarming Rate of Deforestation Threatens Biodiversity

Biodiversity at risk as forests cut down at alarming rates globally

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As forests continue to be cut down at "alarming rates", the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says biodiversity in danger. Pixabay

The world’s forests continue to be cut down at “alarming rates”, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its State of the World’s Forests 2020 report.

The 188-page report released on Friday, which caps a decade of studies on biodiversity under the oversight of the UN, examines the contributions of forests and of the populations that use and manage them, with an eye toward forest conservation, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the report, forests occupy less than a third of the world’s land, but they account for 80 per cent of all amphibian species, 75 of bird species, 68 per cent of mammal species, and around 60 per cent of all vascular plant species. But that biodiversity is at risk, the report said.

“Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity,” the FAO report said.

It added that over the last 30 years at least 420 million hectares of forests have been lost to land-use changes, mostly to agricultural development, or in some cases for the production of wood.

Forests
Deforestation at a massive rate poses a threat to biodiversity. Pixabay

The lost forest land is roughly the equivalent to the size of the north African country of Libya, FAO said.

The news is not all bad, however.

Also Read: COVID-19 Virus Infections by Touching Surfaces Relatively Lower: Reports

The report said the rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years, from around 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 10 million hectares per year over the last five years. FAO headed the production of the report in collaboration with the UN Environment Program. (IANS)

 

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Cybercrime on Rise During Pandemic, Warns UN

There has been a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the ongoing pandemic

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Pandemic
A Toyota Hybrid during a test for hackers at the Cybersecurity Conference in Lille, northern France, Jan. 29, 2020. VOA

The U.N. disarmament chief said the COVID-19 pandemic is moving the world toward increased technological innovation and online collaboration but warned that “cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600 percent increase in malicious emails during the current crisis.”, as suggested by Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news.

Izumi Nakamitsu told an informal meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that “there have also been worrying reports of attacks against health care organizations and medical research facilities worldwide.”

She said growing digital dependency has increased the vulnerability to cyberattacks, and “it is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds.”

According to the International Telecommunication Union, “nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity,” Nakamitsu said.

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Nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity. Pixabay

The high representative for disarmament affairs said the threat from misusing information and communications technology “is urgent.” But she said there is also good news, pointing to some global progress at the United Nations to address the threats as a result of the development of norms for the use of such technology.

Also Read: New York Times Devotes Entire Front Page to COVID-19 Victims

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, whose country holds the Security Council presidency and organized Friday’s meeting on cyber stability and advancing responsible government behavior in cyberspace, said “the COVID-19 crisis has put extra pressure on our critical services in terms of cybersecurity.”

He said the need for “a secure and functioning cyberspace” is therefore more pressing than ever, and he condemned cyberattacks targeting hospitals, medical research facilities and other infrastructure, especially during the pandemic.

“Those attacks are unacceptable,” Ratas said. “It will be important to hold the offenders responsible for their behavior.” VOA

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UN Agencies Urge Global Community to Help Fight Hunger Crisis and Malnutrition Among Children

UN Urges World Community to Prevent Child Hunger During Coronavirus Pandemic

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hunger meals for children
Bagged meals to be distributed to children are prepared to be delivered by volunteers and members of the Alexandria Sheriff's Office at the closed T.C. Williams high school in Alexandria, Virginia. VOA

Two United Nations agencies called on the global community Wednesday to prevent hunger and malnutrition among the 370 million children who are not receiving school meals due to the closure of schools worldwide in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.N. said school meals are particularly vital for girls, especially those in poor countries, whose struggling parents often send them to school to get meals, allowing them to avoid domestic responsibilities or early marriage.

“For millions of children around the world, the meal they get at school is the only meal they get in a day,” said David Beasley, executive director of the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP). “Without it, they go hungry, they risk falling sick, dropping out of school and losing their best chance of escaping poverty. We must act now to prevent the health pandemic from becoming a hunger catastrophe.”

The U.N. said children in impoverished countries also are missing out on health and nutrition services at school, such as vitamin supplements and vaccinations.

hunger meals for children
School canteen workers prepare meals to be distributed to people as part of an emergency plan by the Lisbon city hall to mitigate the social impact of the coronavirus epidemic at the Loios school in Lisbon. VOA

“School is so much more than a place of learning. For many children it is a lifeline to safety, health services and nutrition,” said United Nations Children’s Fund Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Unless we act now, by scaling up lifesaving services for the most vulnerable children, the devastating fallout caused by COVID-19 will be felt for decades to come.”

The U.N.’s secretary-general recently issued a report indicating hundreds of millions of children are not getting meals at schools due to closures, prompting the WFP and UNICEF to collaborate with national governments to support them during the coronavirus crisis.

The WFP and governments are currently providing children in 68 countries with alternatives to school meals, such as cash transfers, take-home rations and vouchers.

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The WFP and UNICEF said they also will soon begin helping governments in the coming months to resume meal, nutrition and health programs when schools reopen.

Additionally, the agencies said they are using internet technology displayed via an online map to track children who are not getting school meals.

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UNICEF and the WFP said they are asking for $600 million to initially concentrate on 30 “low-income or fragile” countries.

The agencies said their work is “closely aligned” with the UNESCO-led Global Education Coalition, a worldwide initiative to help guarantee that children are able to keep learning despite the COVID-19 crisis. (VOA)

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What is More Dangerous? COVID-19 or Climate Change?

UN Weather Organization: Climate Change May Pose Bigger Danger Than COVID

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Climate crisis COVID-19
If we are unable to mitigate climate change, we will see persistent health problems, especially hunger and the ability to feed the growing population of the world. VOA

By Lisa Schlein

The World Meteorological Organization is warning that if the planet keeps warming at its current pace, the average global temperature could increase by 1.5 degrees C  in the next 10 years.  This rise would worsen extreme weather events, and many of the dangerous effects of climate change might become irreversible, it said.

WMO reported Wednesday that the national lockdowns of transportation, industry and energy production because of the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in a 6 percent drop of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

However, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said this good news would be short-lived.  He said the startup of industry might even trigger a boost in emissions.  He said the pandemic also was making it more difficult to monitor and manage weather and other hazards.

Climate crisis COVID-19
Petteri Taalas, Secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) attends a news conference on the annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin on concentrations of CO2 in climate at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. VOA

“This current COVID crisis has led to the decrease in some measurements,” he said. For example, “airline companies have been carrying out measurements.  Since we have very few flights nowadays, we have less measurements from the aircraft, which is having a negative impact on the quality of the forecasts.”

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While the world is in the throes of tackling two big issues at the same time, Taalas said, the magnitude of problems associated with climate change is much greater than that of COVID.  He said health and economic problems resulting from the pandemic were devastating but noted they would last only a few years.

Also Read- Astrology, Zodiac Sign and COVID-19: What is the relation?

“If we are unable to mitigate climate change, we will see persistent health problems, especially hunger and the ability to feed the growing population of the world, and there will be also more massive impact on economies,” he said.

Taalas said the world needs to show the same determination and unity against climate change as against COVID-19.  He said people everywhere need to act together in the interests of the health and welfare of humanity, for the sake of this and future generations. (VOA)