UN Releases Its First Ever Biodiversity Report, and We’re All Fucked
*Update, as of editing, Scott Morrison has just been egged by a protestor, which will almost certainly mean this story will be buried underneath a Scomo omelette.
Just a few hours ago, the United Nations handed down their first-ever biodiversity report that warned us in clear, unequivocal terms that unless we start taking massive — and they mean massive — action, we’re fucked. You can check out a summary of the report here.
The report was compiled by 145 expert authors, with the help of 310 contributing authors, using 15,000 scientific and government sources, culminating over three years, with a stark warning: “The health of our ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever,” said Sir Robert Watson, Chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
Watson’s comments echoed those of Sir David Attenborough’s just weeks ago.
“It may sound frightening,” Attenborough said, “but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our species.”
Atop a list of idiotic crowning achievements for the human race outlined in the report are:
- One million species of flora and fauna are at risk of extinction in the coming decades;
- Three-quarters of the Earth’s land, two-thirds of the oceans and 85% of crucial wetlands have been severely altered or lost;
- Marine pollution has increased tenfold since 1980;
- 300 to 400 million tonnes of heavy metals, solvents and toxic materials are dumped into the ocean each year;
- The creation of oceanic ‘dead zones’ greater than the size of the United Kingdom;
- A 45 per cent increase in raw timber production since 1970; and
- A 15 per cent increase in global per capita consumption of materials since 1980.
Meanwhile, just hours after the UN dropped one of the most powerful warnings to us as a species, the top articles on news.com.au (we’re not even gonna bother hyperlinking) are the new Royal baby and something about a coffee cup in Game of Thrones, as well as live coverage of the Met Gala in New York.
I’m yet to see a more perfect metaphor for humanity’s attention led astray by something bright and shiny, while we simultaneously hurtle toward a brick wall in a car engulfed in flames.
What’s worse is the fact that more than likely, the UN’s report will be forgotten by the end of the day — while there will certainly be multiple angles on Meghan and Harry’s new bub.
The reason you’re reading this right now is down to the simple fact that we need more features, articles and editorials referencing this report, as it is one of the most profound warnings — atop an already Everest-sized mountain of previous warnings — about the risk to humanity if we’re to simply ignore the signs and focus on the Royal baby instead.
The ABC’s Media Watch has an interesting segment on the Australian media’s coverage of climate-related stories; we’re a fossil fuel-backed economy, after all, so you didn’t expect climate awareness to get a fair shake, did you?
A futile step in the right direction
While the UK’s declaration of a climate emergency last week was a symbol of the change that needs to precipitate, it will likely remain just that: a symbol.
As the BBC writes, the proposal demonstrates “the will of the Commons on the issue, but does not legally compel the government to act,” which has proven a great PR opportunity for a few select parties, without having implemented any concrete policy. It’s a cynical ploy to appear to be doing something, receive support from a public demanding change, without actually lifting a finger.
We need less virtue signalling from businesses and governments alike (see: greenwashing), and should start demanding change — not by 2030 or 2050, but now. With the Australian Federal election coming up in just two weeks, the ABC’s Vote Compass is a useful tool in determining how a party’s policy aligns with your worldview. Check it out, and make sure you’re enrolled to vote.
Thomas Lovejoy, often referred to in scientific circles as the Godfather of Biodiversity, told Canada’s CBC upon reading the UN report that “humanity unwittingly is attempting to throttle the living planet and humanity’s own future”.
He continued to explain that “the biological diversity of this planet has been really hammered, and this is really our last chance to address all of that”.
You heard it here, folks. It’s our last chance — and it’s definitely not going to be achieved if we remain distracted by bright and shiny things. Depending on the type of media you’re consuming, the news cycle can be complete bullshit. Often, it doesn’t give credence to fundamentally important topics like social injustices and global warming because of the corporate interests that fund commercial news that would otherwise lose money if the public were more educated on renewables, and the acknowledgement that the average person just doesn’t want to hear about it. Page clicks on the Royal baby v UN report will almost certainly validate this point.
In order to see this change materialise, as Watson explains, we’re going to have to completely change the way we think and operate.
“The report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” Watson said.
“Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably — this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”
Photos of a very dry Tanzania by Sam Clarke