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Community earth matters  nature and us  what was  what s left  hope  | Newsletter Society

Earth Matters. Nature And Us: What Was, What’s Left: Hope?

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by: Hans van der Broek
earth matters  nature and us  what was  what s left  hope  | Newsletter

When governments have acted forcefully to protect threatened species, such as the Arabian Oryx or the Seychelles Magpie Robin, they have managed to fend off extinction in many cases. And nations have protected more than 15 percent of the world’s land and 7 percent of its oceans by setting up nature reserves and wilderness areas. Still, only a fraction of the most important areas for biodiversity have been protected, and many nature reserves poorly enforce prohibitions against poaching, logging or illegal fishing.

Biodiversity: What Was, What’s Left

Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival.

In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7,7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate 'unprecedented in human history'.

watering fields
Photo by: igor.stevanovic

At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in. When combined with the other ways humans are damaging the environment, climate change is now pushing a growing number of species, such as the Bengal tiger, closer to extinction.

Koala in burned wood
Photo by: Chris Fletcher

Earth Matters. What’s Going On?

As a result, biodiversity loss is projected to accelerate through 2050, particularly in the tropics, unless countries drastically step up their conservation efforts. Human well-being is intertwined with the fate of other species. For a long time, people just thought of biodiversity as saving nature for its own sake. It is clear that there are links between biodiversity nature and things like food security and clean water in both rich and poor countries.

Boy drink water out of pool of water
Photo by: Frederick Dharshie Wissah. A young boy drinking dirty water due to lack of water points in the area due to deforestation thus leading to health risks to the boy

Recommended:Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture And Food

In the Americas, nature provides some $24 trillion of non-monetized benefits to humans each year. The Amazon rain forest absorbs immense quantities of carbon dioxide and helps slow the pace of global warming. Wetlands purify drinking water. Coral reefs sustain tourism and fisheries in the Caribbean. Exotic tropical plants form the basis of a variety of medicines. But as these natural landscapes wither and become less biologically rich, the services they can provide to humans have been dwindling.

Yellow fish, coral reefs
Photo: Allan Hopkins

Humans are producing more food than ever, but land degradation is already harming agricultural productivity on 23 percent of the planet’s land area. The decline of wild bees and other insects that help pollinate fruits and vegetables is putting up to $577 billion in annual crop production at risk. The loss of mangrove forests and coral reefs along coasts could expose up to 300 million people to increased risk of flooding.


                                                                                     Honey Bees
                                               Earth Matters. Nature And Us: What Was, What’s Left: Hope?


Devastation of nature has become so severe that piecemeal efforts to protect individual species or to set up wildlife refuges will no longer be sufficient. Instead, they call for 'transformative changes' that include curbing wasteful consumption, slimming down agriculture’s environmental footprint and cracking down on illegal logging and fishing.

Flooding street red, pink houses man
Photo by: S.L. Shanth Kumar

It’s no longer enough to focus just on environmental policy. We need to build biodiversity considerations into trade and infrastructure decisions, the way that health or human rights are built into every aspect of social and economic decision-making.

Scientists have catalogued only a fraction of living creatures, some 1.3 million; the report estimates there may be as many as 8 million plant and animal species on the planet, most of them insects.

Ants loosing wings
Photo by: Naskrecki

Since 1500, at least 680 species have blinked out of existence, including the Pinta Giant Tortoise of the Galápagos Islands and the Guam flying fox. It could be difficult to make precise forecasts but there could be a looming extinction crisis, with extinction rates currently tens to hundreds of times higher than they have been in the past 10 million years. Human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before.  Around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken.

Lonesome George

The Extinction of the La Pinta Island Tortoise, Galápagos Islands

Unless nations step up their efforts to protect what natural habitats are left, they could witness the disappearance of 40 percent of amphibian species, one-third of marine mammals and one-third of reef-forming corals. More than 500,000 land species, do not have enough natural habitat left to ensure their long-term survival.

Over the past 50 years, global biodiversity loss has primarily been driven by activities like the clearing of forests for farmland, the expansion of roads and cities, logging, hunting, overfishing, water pollution and the transport of invasive species around the globe.

Plastic pollution man swimming
Photo by: Sebnem Coskun

In Indonesia, the replacement of rain forest with palm oil plantations has ravaged the habitat of critically endangered orangutans and Sumatran tigers. In Mozambique, ivory poachers helped kill off nearly 7,000 elephants between 2009 and 2011 alone.

Recommended: Hurting The Environment: The Palm Oil Paradox

In Argentina and Chile, the introduction of the North American beaver in the 1940s has devastated native trees (though it has also helped other species thrive, including the Magellanic woodpecker). All told, three-quarters of the world’s land area has been significantly altered by people, the report found, and 85 percent of the world’s wetlands have vanished since the 18th century.

Everglade Wedlands dawn bird
Photo by: Brian Lasenby. Everglades Wetlands

Climate Change

Roughly 5 percent of species worldwide are threatened with climate-related extinction if global average temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. (The world has already warmed 1 degree.) If climate change were the only problem we were facing, a lot of species could probably move. But when populations are already small and losing genetic diversity, when natural landscapes are already fragmented, when plants and animals can’t move to find newly suitable habitats, then we have a real threat on our hands. The dwindling number of species will not just make the world a less colorful or wondrous place, the report noted. It also poses risks to people.

Food

Today, humans are relying on significantly fewer varieties of plants and animals to produce food. Of the 6,190 domesticated mammal breeds used in agriculture, more than 559 have gone extinct and 1,000 more are threatened. That means the food system is becoming less resilient against pests and diseases. And it could become harder in the future to breed new, hardier crops and livestock to cope with the extreme heat and drought that climate change will bring. Most of nature’s contributions are not fully replaceable. Biodiversity loss can permanently reduce future options, such as wild species that might be domesticated as new crops and be used for genetic improvement.

Almost extinct corn

Glimmers Of Hope.

We are back where we started this article. A glimmer of hope! When governments have acted forcefully to protect threatened species, such as the Arabian Oryx or the Seychelles Magpie Robin, they have managed to fend off extinction in many cases. And nations have protected more than 15 percent of the world’s land and 7 percent of its oceans by setting up nature reserves and wilderness areas.

Still, only a fraction of the most important areas for biodiversity have been protected, and many nature reserves poorly enforce prohibitions against poaching, logging or illegal fishing. Climate change could also undermine existing wildlife refuges by shifting the geographic ranges of species that currently live within them. So, in addition to advocating the expansion of protected areas, we need to limit the drivers of biodiversity loss.

Adopting

Farmers and ranchers would have to adopt new techniques to grow more food on less land. Consumers in wealthy countries would have to waste less food and become more efficient in their use of natural resources. Governments around the world would have to strengthen and enforce environmental laws, cracking down on illegal logging and fishing and reducing the flow of heavy metals and untreated wastewater into the environment.

Recommended: New Foodscape Alternatives Gets Attention In The Netherlands

Efforts to limit global warming will be critical, although the development of biofuels to reduce emissions could end up harming biodiversity by further destroying forests. None of this will be easy, especially since many developing countries face pressure to exploit their natural resources as they try to lift themselves out of poverty. 

Ice berg collapse

You can’t just tell leaders in Africa that there can’t be any development and that we should turn the whole continent into a national park. There are trade-offs, that if you don’t take into account the value that nature provides, then ultimately human well-being will be compromised.

In the next two years, diplomats from around the world will gather for several meetings under the Convention on Biological Diversity, a global treaty, to discuss how they can step up their efforts at conservation. Yet even in the new report’s most optimistic scenario, through 2050 the world’s nations would only slow the decline of biodiversity, not stop it. At this point, it is all about damage control.

Face on the water surface
It's all about damage control!

Before you go!

Recommended: Floating Cities: A Sustainable Concept For Future Communities

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At this turbulent time for ‘all’ species and our planet, we are determined to inform readers about threats, consequences and solutions based on facts, not on political prejudice or business interests.

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profileimage

Breaking News, as the world changes…

In our world, WhatsOrb refuses to turn away from the changes in our society and environment which succeeds each other at a rapid pace.

For WhatsOrb, publishing on the environment is a priority. We give reporting on climate, nature, waste, lifestyle and sustainable solutions the prominence it deserves.

At this turbulent time for ‘all’ species and our planet, we are determined to inform readers about threats, consequences and solutions based on facts, not on political prejudice or business interests.

WhatsOrb Breaking News will be published as soon as urgent events from around the world and startling sustainable innovations reach us.

If there is anything we should know and publish about, please send a note to: [email protected] or write your own story on: www.whatsorb.comthe only news site which gives you a ‘sustainable voice!’

Earth Matters. Nature And Us: What Was, What’s Left: Hope?

When governments have acted forcefully to protect threatened species, such as the Arabian Oryx or the Seychelles Magpie Robin, they have managed to fend off extinction in many cases. And nations have protected more than 15 percent of the world’s land and 7 percent of its oceans by setting up nature reserves and wilderness areas.  Still, only a fraction of the most important areas for biodiversity have been protected, and many nature reserves poorly enforce prohibitions against poaching, logging or illegal fishing. Biodiversity: What Was, What’s Left Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7,7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate 'unprecedented in human history'. Photo by: igor.stevanovic At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in. When combined with the other ways humans are damaging the environment, climate change is now pushing a growing number of species, such as the Bengal tiger, closer to extinction. Photo by: Chris Fletcher Earth Matters. What’s Going On? As a result, biodiversity loss is projected to accelerate through 2050, particularly in the tropics, unless countries drastically step up their conservation efforts. Human well-being is intertwined with the fate of other species. For a long time, people just thought of biodiversity as saving nature for its own sake. It is clear that there are links between biodiversity nature and things like food security and clean water in both rich and poor countries. Photo by: Frederick Dharshie Wissah.  A young boy drinking dirty water due to lack of water points in the area due to deforestation thus leading to health risks to the boy Recommended:Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture And Food In the Americas, nature provides some $24 trillion of non-monetized benefits to humans each year. The Amazon rain forest absorbs immense quantities of carbon dioxide and helps slow the pace of global warming. Wetlands purify drinking water. Coral reefs sustain tourism and fisheries in the Caribbean. Exotic tropical plants form the basis of a variety of medicines. But as these natural landscapes wither and become less biologically rich, the services they can provide to humans have been dwindling. Photo: Allan Hopkins Humans are producing more food than ever, but land degradation is already harming agricultural productivity on 23 percent of the planet’s land area. The decline of wild bees and other insects that help pollinate fruits and vegetables is putting up to $577 billion in annual crop production at risk. The loss of mangrove forests and coral reefs along coasts could expose up to 300 million people to increased risk of flooding. {youtube}                                                                                      Honey Bees                                                Earth Matters. Nature And Us: What Was, What’s Left: Hope? Devastation of nature has become so severe that piecemeal efforts to protect individual species or to set up wildlife refuges will no longer be sufficient. Instead, they call for 'transformative changes' that include curbing wasteful consumption, slimming down agriculture’s environmental footprint and cracking down on illegal logging and fishing. Photo by: S.L. Shanth Kumar It’s no longer enough to focus just on environmental policy. We need to build biodiversity considerations into trade and infrastructure decisions, the way that health or human rights are built into every aspect of social and economic decision-making. Scientists have catalogued only a fraction of living creatures, some 1.3 million; the report estimates there may be as many as 8 million plant and animal species on the planet, most of them insects. Photo by: Naskrecki Since 1500, at least 680 species have blinked out of existence, including the Pinta Giant Tortoise of the Galápagos Islands and the Guam flying fox. It could be difficult to make precise forecasts but there could be a looming extinction crisis, with extinction rates currently tens to hundreds of times higher than they have been in the past 10 million years. Human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before.  Around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken. The Extinction of the La Pinta Island Tortoise, Galápagos Islands Unless nations step up their efforts to protect what natural habitats are left, they could witness the disappearance of 40 percent of amphibian species, one-third of marine mammals and one-third of reef-forming corals. More than 500,000 land species, do not have enough natural habitat left to ensure their long-term survival. Over the past 50 years, global biodiversity loss has primarily been driven by activities like the clearing of forests for farmland, the expansion of roads and cities, logging, hunting, overfishing, water pollution and the transport of invasive species around the globe. Photo by: Sebnem Coskun In Indonesia, the replacement of rain forest with palm oil plantations has ravaged the habitat of critically endangered orangutans and Sumatran tigers. In Mozambique, ivory poachers helped kill off nearly 7,000 elephants between 2009 and 2011 alone. Recommended:  Hurting The Environment: The Palm Oil Paradox In Argentina and Chile, the introduction of the North American beaver in the 1940s has devastated native trees (though it has also helped other species thrive, including the Magellanic woodpecker). All told, three-quarters of the world’s land area has been significantly altered by people, the report found, and 85 percent of the world’s wetlands have vanished since the 18th century. Photo by: Brian Lasenby. Everglades Wetlands Climate Change Roughly 5 percent of species worldwide are threatened with climate-related extinction if global average temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. (The world has already warmed 1 degree.) If climate change were the only problem we were facing, a lot of species could probably move. But when populations are already small and losing genetic diversity, when natural landscapes are already fragmented, when plants and animals can’t move to find newly suitable habitats, then we have a real threat on our hands. The dwindling number of species will not just make the world a less colorful or wondrous place, the report noted. It also poses risks to people. Food Today, humans are relying on significantly fewer varieties of plants and animals to produce food. Of the 6,190 domesticated mammal breeds used in agriculture, more than 559 have gone extinct and 1,000 more are threatened. That means the food system is becoming less resilient against pests and diseases. And it could become harder in the future to breed new, hardier crops and livestock to cope with the extreme heat and drought that climate change will bring. Most of nature’s contributions are not fully replaceable. Biodiversity loss can permanently reduce future options, such as wild species that might be domesticated as new crops and be used for genetic improvement. Glimmers Of Hope. We are back where we started this article. A glimmer of hope! When governments have acted forcefully to protect threatened species, such as the Arabian Oryx or the Seychelles Magpie Robin, they have managed to fend off extinction in many cases. And nations have protected more than 15 percent of the world’s land and 7 percent of its oceans by setting up nature reserves and wilderness areas. Still, only a fraction of the most important areas for biodiversity have been protected, and many nature reserves poorly enforce prohibitions against poaching, logging or illegal fishing. Climate change could also undermine existing wildlife refuges by shifting the geographic ranges of species that currently live within them. So, in addition to advocating the expansion of protected areas, we need to limit the drivers of biodiversity loss. Adopting Farmers and ranchers would have to adopt new techniques to grow more food on less land. Consumers in wealthy countries would have to waste less food and become more efficient in their use of natural resources. Governments around the world would have to strengthen and enforce environmental laws, cracking down on illegal logging and fishing and reducing the flow of heavy metals and untreated wastewater into the environment. Recommended:  New Foodscape Alternatives Gets Attention In The Netherlands Efforts to limit global warming will be critical, although the development of biofuels to reduce emissions could end up harming biodiversity by further destroying forests. None of this will be easy, especially since many developing countries face pressure to exploit their natural resources as they try to lift themselves out of poverty.  You can’t just tell leaders in Africa that there can’t be any development and that we should turn the whole continent into a national park. There are trade-offs, that if you don’t take into account the value that nature provides, then ultimately human well-being will be compromised. In the next two years, diplomats from around the world will gather for several meetings under the Convention on Biological Diversity, a global treaty, to discuss how they can step up their efforts at conservation. Yet even in the new report’s most optimistic scenario, through 2050 the world’s nations would only slow the decline of biodiversity, not stop it. At this point, it is all about damage control. It's all about damage control! Before you go! Recommended:  Floating Cities: A Sustainable Concept For Future Communities Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about sustainability? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
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