This was a particularly difficult day for me because the second shoe has hit the floor very, very hard. The first shoe dropped last fall when the 1.5C report was published by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicating that we have only 12 years left to address climate change. The other shoe dropped to the floor today when the United Nations Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published its unusually stark Global Assessment Report, the most thorough planetary health check ever undertaken.
Let me state it right up front: the report is devastating. It was conducted by more than 450 scientists and diplomats, and was three years in the making. As well, it drew on over 15,000 reference materials and runs out to over 1800 pages. A shorter 40 page summary for policymakers is also available.
overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide
range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,”
said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on
which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly
than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies,
livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
Report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now
threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever
before in human history.
average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats
has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of
amphibian species, almost 33% of reef forming corals and more than a
third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear
for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative
estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had
been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of
all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had
become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still
species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated
plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The
essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and
increasingly frayed,” said Prof. Settele. “This loss is a direct
result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human
well-being in all regions of the world.”
Let us be clear, both the IPCC report and this IPBES assure us that it is not too late, but ONLY if we engage NOW with transformative change: “fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”
Question: How good are we at transformative change? Who exactly is going to steer us away from “the current limited paradigm of economic growth?”
I highly recommend reading the two press stories HERE (Guardian) and HERE (BBC) and, if you are so inclined, download and read the summary for policymakers.