UN officials gathered at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Japan have issued a global warning that the rapid loss of animal and plant species that has characterized the past century must end if humans are to survive.
Delegates in Nagoya plan to set a new target for 2020 for curbing species loss, and will discuss boosting medium-term financial help for poor countries to help them protect their wildlife and habitats (Yahoo Green).
“Business as usual is no more an option for mankind,” CBD executive secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf said in his opening statements. “We need a new approach, we need to reconnect with nature and live in harmony with nature into the future.”
The CBD is an international legally-binding treaty with three main goals: conservation of biodiversity; sustainable use of biodiversity; fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. Its overall objective is to encourage actions which will lead to a sustainable future.
As Djoghlaf acknolwedged in his opening statements, facing the fact that many countries have ignored their obligation to these goals is imperitive if progress is to be made in the future.
“Let us have the courage to look in the eyes of our children and admit that we have failed, individually and collectively, to fulfil the Johannesburg promise made to them by the 110 Heads of State and Government to substantially reduce the loss of biodiversity by 2010,” Djoghlaf stated. “Let us look in the eyes of our children and admit that we continue to lose biodiversity at an unprecedented rate, thus mortgaging their future.”
Earlier this year, the U.N. warned several eco-systems including the Amazon rainforest, freshwater lakes and rivers and coral reefs are approaching a “tipping point” which, if reached, may see them never recover.
According to a study by UC Berkeley and Penn State University researchers, between 15 and 42 percent of the mammals in North America disappeared after humans arrived. Compared to extinction rates demonstrated in other periods of Earth’s history, this means that North American species are already half way to to a sixth mass extinction, similar to the one that eliminated the dinosaurs.
The same is true in many other parts of the world. The third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook demonstrates that, today, the rate of loss of biodiversity is up to one thousand times higher than the background and historical rate of extinction.
The Earth’s 6.8 billion humans are effectively living 50 percent beyond the planet’s biocapacity in 2007, according to a new assessment by the World Wildlife Fund that said by 2030 humans will effectively need the capacity of two Earths in order to survive.
Image Credit: Flickr - Dano