Preserve planet or pay the price - GulfToday

Preserve planet or pay the price


The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Human beings owe much to nature as it offers everything necessary to sustain and lead a happy life, including sunshine, water and fresh air.

Instead of nurturing such a precious benefactor, humans are increasingly bent on destroying nature and that’s really heart breaking.

A landmark United Nations report on the state of nature released recently shows how humanity has wreaked havoc on the environment.

Nearly one million species risk becoming extinct within decades, while current efforts to conserve the earth’s resources will likely fail without radical action.

The report has been prepared after exhaustive efforts, which implies that the message is too important to be ignored.

Presented to more than 130 government delegations for their approval at Unesco headquarters, the report features the work of 400 experts from at least 50 countries, coordinated by the Bonn-based Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

A glance at the findings indicates to what extent human beings have undercut earth’s essential life-support systems.

Species are going extinct up to several hundred times quicker than during the last 10 million years, and half a million plants and animals currently have insufficient habitat for long term survival. This mass extinction will have a direct impact on human life.

As population swells, so does mankind’s consumption. The report has depicted a world ravaged by an insatiable demand for resources. Crop production has surged 300 per cent since 1970, meaning one third of all land is now used to make food — an industry that uses 75 per cent of all fresh water on earth.

At least one quarter of all man-made emissions come from agriculture, the vast majority from meat production. What’s worse, half of all new agricultural land is taken from forests, the lungs of the planet that suck greenhouse gases from the air.

Many crop wild relatives that are needed for long-term food security lack effective protection, increasing the worry.

Reductions in the diversity of cultivated crops, crop wild relatives and domesticated breeds mean that farming will likely be less resilient against climate change, pests and pathogens.

Despite many local efforts, including by indigenous peoples and local communities, by 2016, 559 of the 6,190 domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture were extinct — around nine per cent of the total — and at least 1,000 more are threatened.

Nevertheless, things can be improved through right action. For example, researchers recently examined more than 18,000 community-led forest initiatives in Nepal, using satellite images and census data from the country, where more than a third of forests are managed by a quarter of the population.

Giving Nepalese communities the chance to look after their own forests led to a 37 per cent drop in deforestation and a 4.3 per cent decline in poverty levels between 2000 and 2012, as per a paper published by the journal nature     Sustainability.

“Community forest management has achieved a clear win-win for people and the environment across an entire country,” stated the lead author Johan Oldekop, an environment lecturer at Britain’s University of Manchester.

Actions like these can go a long way in preserving nature.

As Unesco Director-General Audrey Azoulay pointed out, “We can no longer continue to destroy the diversity of life. This is our responsibility towards future generations.”

The UN report has unmistakably put the world “on notice”.

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