Sit on a log by the Madidi River in Bolivia at dusk and you can hear what an Amazon forest should sound like. The music includes red howler monkeys, breathy thumps from the mutum jungle fowl, droning cicadas, eerie calls locals attribute to deadly bushmaster vipers and the unhinged excitement of elusive titi monkeys. Around your feet, the beach is crisscrossed by jaguar tracks and those of the pony-size tapir, a shy beast that, if you keep quiet, will saunter out of the forest and swim across the river.
This is what scientists call an “intact forest landscape.” It’s a swath of at least 500 square kilometers (about 193 square miles, equal to 70,000 soccer fields) of unbroken forest.… Seguir leyendo »
Whether in Davos or almost anywhere else that leaders are discussing the world’s problems, they are missing by far the biggest issue: the rapidly deteriorating global environment and its ability to support civilization.
The situation is pretty much an endgame. Unless pressing issues of the biology of the planet and of climate change generated by greenhouse gas emissions are addressed with immediacy and at appropriate scale, the matters that occupy Davos discussions will be seen in retrospect as largely irrelevant.
This week, in Bonn, out of sight and out of mind, international negotiators will design the biodiversity and ecosystem equivalent to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.… Seguir leyendo »
In a cavernous London conference center so devoid of life as to seem a film set for “The Matrix,” 3,000 scientists, officials and members of civil society organizations met in the last week of March to consider the state of the planet and what to do about it.
The Planet Under Pressure conference is intended to feed directly into the “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development this coming June, 20 years after the Earth Summit in Rio convened the largest number ever of heads of state and produced, among other things, two international conventions, one for climate change and the other for biological diversity.… Seguir leyendo »
Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are pushing 400 parts per million (p.p.m.) — up from the natural pre-industrial level of 280 p.p.m. Emissions for last year were the highest ever. Rather than drift along until a calamity galvanizes the world, and especially the United States, into precipitous action, the time to act is now.
The biology of the planet indicates we are already in a danger zone. The goal of limiting temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, as discussed at the Copenhagen and Cancun climate summits, is actually disastrous.
As we push the planet’s average temperature increase beyond 0.75°C, coral reefs (upon which 5 percent of humanity depends) are in increasing trouble.… Seguir leyendo »
Last year the nations of the world gathered in Copenhagen in hopes of advancing the global agenda for climate change. Similarly — with much less fanfare yet no less importance — they are now gathered in Nagoya, Japan, to improve the prospects for the living planet and its biodiversity.
Many people live under the illusion that the Earth’s biology is largely irrelevant to us. That was manifest in the way the Millenium Development Goals were discussed at the recent United Nations General Assembly completely independent from the discussions related to the International Year of Biodiversity.
Ironically, almost everyone present during the General Assembly talks probably was unaware that the water they were drinking was purified by the biodiversity of the nearby Catskill watershed.… Seguir leyendo »
The third “Global Biodiversity Outlook,” an assessment of the current state of the variety of life on the Earth and the implications of its continued reduction, was recently released. Not surprisingly, the outlook, prepared by the Convention on Biological Diversity, is not pretty. But it is also not all inevitable.
Few remember the first two such reports, in part because the outlook was not so grim. This report, based on national reports from 120 countries and with substantial scientific input and review, is truly hard to ignore.
The last time the nations of the world came together to deal with the state of the planet’s biology, they agreed to an overall target “to achieve a significant reduction of the current rate of global biodiversity loss.”
Yet not a single national report in the current Outlook showed a national target that had been met, despite important and significant achievements in conservation.… Seguir leyendo »