We generate our own environment

We get exactly what we deserve. How can we resent a life we’ve created ourselves?

Down to Earth – Landmark study confirms degradation of environment

The capacity of human beings to savage the one world they have at their disposal can perhaps only astonish a passing extraterrestrial now, considering that it falls to have any effect on the majority of its own so-called sapient denizens. But for what it’s worth, the four- yearlong Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’s summary report is out. It’s the first comprehensive global biodiversity evaluation programme and the biggest review of planet’s life support systems. Badly put, it says humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the last 50 years than any period of their existence. Also that more land has been converted to agriculture since 1945 than in the 18th and 19 centuries put together, resulting in substantial and largely irreversible loss in diversity of life on earth. Up to 30% of mammalian, bird and amphibian species are currently threatened with total extinction. That’s enough evidence for experts to warn of the likelihood of potentially abrupt changes which could seriously affect human well being, including the emergence of new diseases, sudden changes in water quality, creation of “dead zones” along coastal lines and shifts in regional climate. More ominously, the assessment team warns that the ability of Earth’s ecosystem to sustain future generations can no longer to be taken for granted.

Having heard all this should our visiting ET give up all hope for the posterity of human kind and leave? Not just yet, for the report also tells- if anyone’s listening, that is- of how disaster can be averted and sets out coherent strategies for the protection of species and habitats. It offers tools for managing the environment particularly in poor countries, and identifies the changes in institutions and policies that will be needed if we are to deal with the root causes of environmental degradation. Significantly, it fills a global knowledge gap. As Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the UN, a major fund provider, puts it, only by understanding environment and how it works, can we make the necessary decisions to protect it. We are told the assessment is recognized by world leaders and governments as a mechanism to meet part of the needs of several international environmental treaties. These individuals and institutions have not only pledged to reduce the loss of biological diversity by 2010 but also vowed to achieve such development goals by 2015. It’s probably the last chance we get for doing so. If we don’t seize it, it’s curtains for us earthlings.

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