The world's eco-systems are at risk of "rapid degradation and collapse." That’s among the grim findings of a new United Nations (UN) report.The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) published by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) warns that unless "radical and creative action" is taken quickly " the variety of life on Earth, natural systems that support lives and livelihoods are at risk of collapsing.”
Based on more than 100 national reports and future scenarios for biodiversity, GBO-3 shows that world leaders failed to deliver on their commitment to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.The five main pressures directly causing biodiversity loss: habitat change, over-exploitation, pollution, invasive alien species and climate change.
The report also finds these stresses on the environment are either constant or increasing in intensity.Vertebrate species fell by nearly one third between 1970 and 2006, natural habitats are in decline, genetic diversity of crops is falling and 60 breeds of livestock have become extinct since 2000.“Business as usual is no longer an option if we are to avoid irreversible damage to the life-support systems of our planet,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, calling the report “a wake-up call for humanity.”The Economics of EnvironmentalismThe authors of the GBO-3 report argue that for a mere fraction of the money summoned up instantly by the world’s governments to mitigate the economic crisis, the serious and fundamental breakdown in the Earth’s life support systems could have been avoided.“Many economies remain blind to the huge value of the diversity of animals, plants and other life forms and their role in healthy and functioning ecosystems from forests and freshwaters to soils, oceans and even the atmosphere,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP.“To tackle the root causes of biodiversity loss, we must give it higher priority in all areas of decision-making and in all economic sectors,” says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.In remarks made in February, Ki-Moon argued the Earth’s eco-systems are our “natural capitol” and protecting them is really a bottom line issue. In fact, a UN-backed study estimates that loss of natural capital due to deforestation and land degradation alone stands at between $2 trillion and $4.5 trillion each year.“Too often environmental protection is seen as conflicting with economic protection. In fact they are two sides of the same coin.
All over the world, ecosystem services are a massive undervalued subsidy provided by the environment. When we lose these services through mismanagement, crops fail, profits drop, people become poorer, economies suffer,” said Ki-Moon.