Monday October 21, 2019

About 150 Scientists Meet to Work on Current State of Global Biodiversity

The warning from scientists and officials gathering here is that by destroying their own planet, people are also threatening mankind — and hurting people

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France's Minister of Ecology Francois de Rugy, delivers a speech at the opening of an international conference on biodiversity (IPBES) in Paris on April 29, 2019. VOA

Officials from 132 nations have been gathering in Paris to look at the state of biodiversity around the world. The meeting is the 7th session of the Intergovernmental Science and Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which will culminate with the presentation of a huge report when the meeting concludes on May 4.

The task is enormous. The challenges even more. About 150 scientists have worked to establish a detailed assessment of the current state of global biodiversity. The 1,800-page report, the first inventory in 15 years, is expected to become a scientific reference in biodiversity

A quarter of the 100,000 species assessed, a tiny portion of the estimated 8 million on Earth, are already threatened with extinction. But “an imminent rapid acceleration in the rate of species extinction” is expected by scientists, according to the draft report. And between 500,000 and one million are expected to become threatened, including “many in the coming decades.”

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The report alleges that human activity as a whole is responsible for a 60 percent decline in global wildlife between 1970 and 2014. Pixabay

The roots of the problem are well known : climate change and human activities. In 2018, a World Wildlife Fund report indicated that half of all wildlife species have disappeared in just 40 years. Deforestation, pesticide use, fishing, are among the culprits.

The report alleges that human activity as a whole is responsible for a 60 percent decline in global wildlife between 1970 and 2014.

“The conversion and destruction of natural habitats, for example for agriculture, and also by direct exploitation of animals and plants, through hunting, fishing or forestry,” says Thomas Brooks, the International Union For Conservation of Nature’s chief scientist.

The warning from scientists and officials gathering here is that by destroying their own planet, people are also threatening mankind — and hurting people.

biodiversity
The warning from scientists and officials gathering here is that by destroying their own planet, people are also threatening mankind — and hurting people. Pixabay

“The continued loss of biodiversity will undermine the ability of most countries to achieve most of the sustainable development goals. In particular, it will undermine our ability for poverty reduction, food and water security, human health and the overall goal of leaving nobody behind,” says Bob Watson, chairman of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosytem Services.

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“The loss of living nature, the loss of biodiversity is something that has dramatic and negative implications for all people in all countries,” says Brooks. “It is well documented that the most severe impacts of the loss of biodiversity are felt by the people who have the fewest resources to be able to respond to those losses.”

This gathering is the first of several events to put the ecosystem at the center of discussions. The next is the G-7 at the end of August in Biarritz, chaired by France, which wants to put biodiversity on the agenda. (VOA)

Next Story

Climate change, Pollution Causing Irreversible Damage to New Zealand’s Marine Environment

Agriculture, forestry and urbanization are increasing the amount of sediment, chemicals and plastics flowing

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Climate Change, Pollution, Damage
FILE - Activists march on Parliament to protest a lack of action on climate change, in Wellington, New Zealand, Sept. 27, 2019. VOA

Climate change, pollution and fishing are causing irreversible damage to New Zealand’s marine environment and putting many birds and mammals at risk of extinction, according to a new report from the nation’s Ministry for the Environment.

The report said New Zealand’s coastline, which stretches for about 15,000 kilometers, is also under increasing pressure from development and shipping. Agriculture, forestry and urbanization are increasing the amount of sediment, chemicals and plastics flowing into the oceans, and contaminating the coastline, it said.

The report said 90 percent of the country’s seabirds and about a quarter of its marine mammals are threatened with extinction, and that 16 percent of New Zealand’s fish stocks had been overfished.

“The sea is a receiving environment for what happens on the land, so our activities on land from the mountains to the sea are having an impact on what we are seeing in the marine environment; growing cities, forestry, agriculture — all delivering increasing amounts of sedimentation,” said Vicky Robertson, New Zealand’s secretary for the environment.

Climate Change, Pollution, Damage
The report said New Zealand’s coastline, which stretches for about 15,000 kilometers, is also under increasing pressure from development and shipping. Pixabay

Warmer seas

The report also confirmed that New Zealand’s sea temperature had risen and was consistent with the global average. It also found sea levels were rising faster than before.

There was a warning, too, that New Zealand could expect more frequent marine heat waves, similar to those in 2017 and 2018, and ocean acidification.

For the first time, data from citizen scientists were used in the government report. Community groups were instructed about how to collect robust data.

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The next official marine environment report is due in three years.

New Zealand is a grouping of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia. It has a population of 4.5 million people. (VOA)