Monday, 6 December 2010

Scientists Agree: We Need to Act Now to Halt Biodiversity Loss

It's not exactly a snappy title, but after a 5 year gestation, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IpBES for short, is at last officially up and running.

In true dry-as-dust scientific form also, the new body states its brief thus

"Scientific knowledge on the links between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being has increased significantly since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MAs) was completed. There is however a need for a stronger international science-policy platform to enable emerging scientific knowledge to be translated into specific policy action at the appropriate levels."

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment "found universal agreement across the studies that fundamental changes are needed in society to avoid high risk of extinctions, declining populations in many species, and large scale shifts in species distributions in the future."

"There is no question that business-as-usual development pathways will lead to catastrophic biodiversity loss. Even optimistic scenarios for this century consistently predict extinctions and shrinking populations of many species."

It is worth stressing here, that those who ignore these facts are flying in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. The destruction and degradation of biodiversity is the single most important issue of the 21st century, an issue that, if not addressed forthwith, without any more shilly shallying around, will continue eroding our prosperity and our future, ultimately destroying our whole way of life.

So How Much is Nature Worth to Us?

Global biodiversity is worth much, much more to humanity than casual observers might think. Far in excess of the entire business output of any mere human artefacts such as countries, multinationals or banks.

"In one of the first efforts to calculate a global number, a team of researchers from the United States, Argentina, and the Netherlands has put an average price tag of US$33 trillion a year on these fundamental ecosystem services, which are largely taken for granted because they are free. That is nearly twice the value of the global gross national product (GNP) of US$18 trillion ..."

 HT: British Ecological Society Blog 

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