With a biodiversity conference underway in Japan, the Independent has a couple of articles with a sobering look at our failure to safeguard biodiversity, and the profound impacts of losing plants, animals and even ecosystems.
[quote]The earth is losing species at a rate of more than 1,000 times the historical average. A fifth of the ocean's coral reefs have been destroyed. And tropical rainforests are still being cut down at an alarming speed in Africa and South America. The outlook in 2010 is as bleak as ever.
A recent UN study put a financial estimate on the annual economic damage being done to the natural world. For 2008 they put the cost at £1.3 trillion. Whether one accepts that precise figure or not (and there is no simple way of measuring such costs) it is clear that mankind has an economic interest in preventing further degradation of our biosphere.
We also need to recognise that the resources of our biosphere are finite and that without careful stewarding, we will lose them altogether. International co-operation on biodiversity and climate change can help – but without a revolution in human attitudes to the natural world the outlook will remain bleak.[/quote]
Leading article: The outlook is as bleak as ever
And in the other article:
Saving the Earth's biodiversity from the crisis engulfing it will cost far less than letting it disappear, a radical new report will reveal tomorrow.
The rapid global decline of species and habitats is depriving the planet of enormous and essential economic benefits, which in some cases will be impossible to replace once they are gone, according to the TEEB report, which is being unveiled at the United Nations biodiversity conference in Nagoya in Japan.
The report – the acronym of which stands for The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – aims to do for the planet's increasingly threatened wildlife and ecosystems what the celebrated Stern report of 2006 did for climate change – to show that the economics of the problem are vital and that the costs of not solving it will be far greater than taking action.
Three years in preparation, the report is based on the increasingly influential idea of "ecosystem services", which highlights the fact that a rainforest, for example – far from being just a wildlife theme park – plays a vital role in producing oxygen and fresh water for human society and in storing the carbon emissions which we produce and which are causing global climate change.
Many other threatened ecosystems and species – from mangrove swamps to honey bees – provide similar essential services which, in the past, have been taken entirely for granted.[/quote]