In 2018 lots of people had hoped that many politicians all over the world would be willing to put the environment at the heart of people’s lives.
The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (the UN-REDD Programme) which was the first joint UN global initiative on climate change could celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Many observers have suggested that we are witnessing a new mass extinction event (Ceballos et al. 2015), although there is as yet no scientific consensus. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) (Box 6.4) Red List of Threatened Species (http://www.iucnredlist.org/) provides the most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant, animal and fungi species. The Red List process has become a massive enterprise involving the IUCN Global Species Program staff, partner organizations and experts in the IUCN Species Survival Commission and partner networks who compile the species information to make The IUCN Red List the indispensable product it is today.
To date, many species groups including mammals, amphibians, birds, reef building corals and conifers have been comprehensively assessed. As well as assessing newly recognized species, the IUCN Red List also re-assesses the status of some existing species, sometimes with positive stories to tell.
More than 27,000 species are threatened with extinction. That is more than 27% of all assessed species. We all should be deeply concerned about ongoing and new threats to the animal species.
The status of vertebrates has been relatively well studied (Rodrigues et al. 2014), but fewer than 1 per cent of described invertebrates (Collen et al. 2012) and only about 5 per cent of vascular plants (Royal Botanical Gardens Kew 2016) have been assessed for extinction risk.
According to IUCN’s latest estimates, cycad species face the greatest risk of extinction with 63 per cent of species in this plant group considered threatened. The most threatened group of vertebrates are amphibians (41 per cent). Of the few invertebrate species assessments completed, 42 per cent of terrestrial, 34 per cent of freshwater and 25 per cent of marine species are considered at risk of extinction (Collen et al. 2012). Among well sampled invertebrate groups, reef-forming corals have the highest proportion (33 per cent) of species under threat.
We all should know the decline should not go on. We can reverse or at least halt, the decline in biodiversity. But this will demand political courage, empathy and respect for all species.
The physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating as record greenhouse gas concentrations drive global temperatures towards increasingly dangerous levels, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The report found that levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high, according to the World Meteorological Organization. There is no sign of a reversal in this trend, which is driving long-term climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and more extreme weather.
The most comprehensive and rigorous assessment on the state of the environment completed by the UN in the last five years was published the 19th of March 2019, warning that damage to the planet is so dire that people’s health will be increasingly threatened unless urgent action is taken.
The report, which was produced by 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries, says that either we drastically scale up environmental protections, or cities and regions in Asia, the Middle East and Africa could see millions of premature deaths by mid-century. It also warns that pollutants in our freshwater systems will see anti-microbial resistance become a major cause of death by 2050 and endocrine disruptors impact male and female fertility, as well as child neurodevelopment.
But the report highlights the fact that the world has the science, technology and finance it needs to move towards a more sustainable development pathway, although sufficient support is still missing from the public, business and political leaders who are clinging to outdated production and development models.
The sixth Global Environmental Outlook has been released while environmental ministers from around the world are in Nairobi to participate in the world’s highest-level environmental forum. Negotiations at the Fourth UN Environment Assembly are expected to tackle critical issues such as stopping food waste, promoting the spread of electric mobility, and tackling the crisis of plastic pollution in our oceans, among many other pressing challenges.
“The science is clear. The health and prosperity of humanity is directly tied with the state of our environment,”
said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment.
“This report is an outlook for humanity. We are at a crossroads. Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or do we pivot to a more sustainable development pathway? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now.”
Innovative policy options
The projection of a future healthy planet with healthy people is based on a new way of thinking where the ‘grow now, clean up after’ model is changed to a near-zero-waste economy by 2050. According to the Outlook, green investment of 2 per cent of countries’ GDP would deliver long-term growth as high as we presently projected but with fewer impacts from climate change, water scarcity and loss of ecosystems.
At present the world is not on track to meet the SDGs by 2030 or 2050. Urgent action is required now as any delay in climate action increases the cost of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, or reversing our progress and at some point, will make them impossible.
The report advises adopting less-meat intensive diets, and reducing food waste in both developed and developing countries, would reduce the need to increase food production by 50% to feed the projected 9-10 billion people on the planet in 2050. At present, 33 per cent of global edible food is wasted, and 56 per cent of waste happens in industrialized countries, the report states.
While urbanization is happening at an unprecedented level globally, the report says it can present an opportunity to increase citizens’ well-being while decreasing their environmental footprint through improved governance, land-use planning and green infrastructure. Furthermore, strategic investment in rural areas would reduce pressure for people to migrate.
The report calls for action to curb the flow of the 8 million tons of plastic pollution going into oceans each year. While the issue has received increased attention in recent years, there is still no global agreement to tackle marine litter.
The scientists note advancements in collecting environmental statistics, particularly geospatial data, and highlight there is huge potential for advancing knowledge using big data and stronger data collection collaborations between public and private partners.
Policy interventions that address entire systems – such as energy, food, and waste – rather than individual issues, such as water pollution, can be much more effective, according to the authors. For example, a stable climate and clean air are interlinked; the climate mitigation actions for achieving the Paris Agreement targets would cost about US$ 22 trillion, but the combined health benefits from reduced air pollution could amount to an additional US$ 54 trillion.
“The report shows that policies and technologies already exist to fashion new development pathways that will avoid these risks and lead to health and prosperity for all people,”
said Joyeeta Gupta and Paul Ekins, co-chairs of the GEO-6 process.
“What is currently lacking is the political will to implement policies and technologies at a sufficient speed and scale. The fourth United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi in March needs to be the occasion when policymakers face up to the challenges and grasp the opportunities of a much brighter future for humanity.”
Everywhere in the world people should open their eyes and see around them how the climate is changing and how natures is intruding much more our way of life, by offering us more extreme weather types, with storms, floods,a.o..
In the United States of America there are deniers or people who want others to believe all that talk about global warming is fake news. They are not only misleading their own folks, they are endangering them too. In name of industrialisation and capital growth certain leaders mislead their people and do everything to give more opportunities to earn more money no matter what the impact on the environment may be. They are not interested in the world around them and certainly not interested in animal life and wellness for plants.
But we as creatures should know we are only placed into this world to use it as ‘tenants’, which demands from us to take care of it, with the knowledge that it does not belong to us personally.
Each of us personally has to take their own responsibility and should be aware of the urgency for changing route in this world. All of us should take up the responsibility to safe or to repair this world for the next generations.
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