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Monday, June 18th, 2018

UN reports see a lonelier planet with fewer plants, animals


Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate, according to four new United Nations scientific reports that provide the most comprehensive and localized look at the state of biodiversity.

Scientists meeting in Colombia issued four regional reports Friday on how well animal and plants are doing in the Americas; Europe and Central Asia; Africa; and the Asia-Pacific area.

Their conclusion after three years of study : Nowhere is doing well.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem was about more than just critters, said study team chairman Robert Watson. It is about keeping Earth livable for humans, because we rely on biodiversity for food, clean water and public health, the prominent British and U.S. scientist said.

“This is undermining well-being across the planet, threatening us long-term on food and water,” Watson said in an interview.

Scientists pointed to this week’s death of the last male northern white rhino in Africa, severe declines in the numbers of elephants, tigers and pangolins, but said those are only the most visible and charismatic of species that are in trouble.

What’s happening is a side effect of the world getting wealthier and more crowded with people, Watson said. Humans need more food, more clean water, more energy and more land. And the way society has tried to achieve that has cut down on biodiversity, he said.

Crucial habitat has been cut apart, alien species have invaded places, chemicals have hurt plants and animals, wetlands and mangroves that clean up pollution are disappearing, and the world’s waters are overfished, he said.

Man-made climate change is getting worse, and global warming will soon hurt biodiversity as much as all the other problems combined, Watson said.

“We keep making choices to borrow from the future to live well today,” said Jake Rice, Canada’s chief government scientist for fisheries and oceans, who co-chaired the Americas report.

Duke University conservationist Stuart Pimm, who wasn’t part of the study team, said the reports make sense and are based on well-established scientific data: “Are things pretty dire? Yes.”

Source: Radio Pakistan