The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, drawn up by 1,300 researchers from 95 nations over a period of four years, paints a pretty dark picture for life on our home planet for generations to come. The BBC has reported on this story:
The report says the way society obtains its resources
has caused irreversible changes that are degrading the natural
processes that support life on Earth.
This will compromise efforts to address hunger, poverty and improve healthcare.
The findings are alarming. One of the statistics to emerge from the report is that 60% of world ecosystem services have been "degraded".
The report is not all doom and gloom. Modelling of future scenarios
suggests human societies can ease the strains being put on nature,
while continuing to use them to raise living standards.
But it requires, says the MA, changes in consumption patterns,
better education, new technologies and higher prices for exploiting
Some of the solutions go to old but as yet unfulfilled
initiatives, such as the abolition of production subsidies which
imbalance world trade and in agriculture are blamed for overloading
land with fertilisers and pesticides as farmers chase high yields.
Newer solutions centre on putting a value on
"externalities" that are currently deemed to be "free" – airlines do
not pay for the carbon dioxide they put into the atmosphere; and the
price of food does not reflect the cost of cleaning waterways that have
been polluted by run-off of agrochemicals from the land.
I don’t think any of this is new. The statistics bring home the severity of what we, as a species, have done to this planet but we all knew this has been coming.