Highlights on UN IPBES report on species loss: Damage isn't permanent, as long as we remedy it soon, dramatically

The report talks about the degree of biodiversity loss & how much of it can be prevented in the future.

Highlights: The United Nations launched one of the most comprehensive reports investigating the number of species lost and impacted from human-induced changes to the environment and climate.

The Earth has seen five mass extinctions so far, where species were lost in the millions. Scientists have been revisiting these extinction events to find out what caused them. The reasons for looking back into the past isn't nostalgia, it's deja vu. 

The largest mass extinction took place some 250 million years ago, and drove ~90 percent of sea life and 70 percent of life on land into extinct in what's now being called "the Great Dying". A domino effect triggered by a volcanic eruption triggered extreme changes to the environment that ended in the bulk of natural diversity dying off.

Now, environmentalists are concerned that man-made climate change puts the planet on a vaguely similar path. There have been many indications, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List that has catalogued over 1,00,000 species that are in danger of extinction. The new UN report — the IPBES' 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services — looks at how clearing forests for agriculture, growing consumption of animal products and driving species out of their natural habitats has impacted nature.

The Global Assessment Report is an exhaustive, 1,800-page Summary for Policymakers. It could go a long way in ending speculation as to the extent of destruction in nature in recent years.

"I would say that the report is likely to be interpreted as 'Boy, we are in trouble' but there are solutions," Prof Sir Robert Watson, Chair of IPBES, told BBC ahead of the report's release on Monday. "Our report will talk about to what degree are we losing biodiversity, and to what degree could we protect some of it in the future."

Here are few related stories on species and habitat loss from our Earth Day series:

We need to protect our species to prevent a global ecosystem collapse

AI has a huge role to play in fulfilling sustainable development goals 

Understanding Project tiger, a homegrown conservation success story

Migrations remind us we are one among a million other species looking to survive, sing and love

Restored forests are often poor replacements for natural habitat 

To solve the climate change crisis, we need a Global Deal for Nature

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LIVE NEWS and UPDATES ONLINE

  • 18:46 (IST)

    Thanks for following the IPBES state of biodiversity report launch with us, everyone!

  • 18:43 (IST)

    Fin.

    And with that, the livestream & our liveblog today comes to a close.

  • 18:42 (IST)

    Experts hope the report spurs fast and powerful action

    This is not the end of the IPBES Global Assessment process. Over the months to come, the committee will process with the next sessions: 'Uptake' & 'Impact' of the report internationally. 

  • 18:34 (IST)

    How do these findings impact cities? 

    Everything from urban green space to parks (which have their own positive effects on mental health & childhood learning), to managing some of the problems that affect stormwater systems or even urban pollution. What happens around the world comes back to affect everyone in some way or the other, be it climate or trade or learning, Dr Kate Braman, Member of the IPBES expert panel, says.

  • 18:19 (IST)

    Mining uninhabited land can't be avoided, but the process

    Mining untapped land isn't just an environmental issue, it's a political and socioeconomic issue. One suggestion that could make interests in Antarctica and the Amazon less harsh is turning mining model into a circular economic one. The industry needs to face the impacts of its actions to ensure they are responsibly conducted, Eduardo Brondizio, IPBES Co-chair says. 

  • 18:15 (IST)

    Food production strategies need to change

    In developing countries, cutting meat in diets and farming is a big focus area for modifying food production process. Change in the way food is disposed and the process of processing & storage is a key focus area for change.

  • 18:09 (IST)

    Antibiotic resistance is also partly a human-induced crisis

    We have evidence that evolution can go really fast under human pressure, and the rising cases of antibiotic resistance are just that: bacteria, fungi rapidly grow resistant to drugs, Professor Diaz, Co-Chair of the Global Assessment.

  • 18:03 (IST)

    The damage isn't permanent yet, but we need to act dramatically, and fast

    While this is a case of 'death by a thousand cuts', there is still time for the planet to recover from it if our actions to recover it are drastic, Dr Kate Raman, Member, IPBES expert panel, says.

  • 18:00 (IST)

    When do we pass tipping points, irreversible changes?

    Some of the most rapidly changing ecosystems that are being affected by climate change are something worrying. Corals, bleaching & their impact on oceans will be some of the most impactful changes from climate change over the next few years. Large changes in the Tundras, Arctic and polar ecosystems are also a big concern. They're covered by ice, and as it melts, the feedback on rising temperature & climate change will be something we'll see in the near future. There are two alarming examples, says Professor Paul Leadley, Member, IPBES expert panel.

    Wetlands are another concern, as they're being lost pretty rapidly, adds Eduardo Brondizio, IPBES Co-chair. 

  • 17:52 (IST)

    Undeniably the most comprehensive on the subject to date

    "What species, what areas, what implications, what scale? There are multiple aspects of species loss that no previous report has looked at before," says Eduardo Brondizio, Co-Chair of the Global Assessment.

    "This is also the most interdisciplinary look at how nature, communities, economies are interlinked," adds Professor Diaz, Co-Chair of the Global Assessment. 

  • 17:43 (IST)

    Our single, interconnected web of life ensure that's we're doomed together

    There may be differences between regions and nations, but the planet is becoming increasingly unequal. This differential impact will only grow worse — Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, in particular. It's important to remember how interconnected we are.

    What happens in one part of the world will affect the rest of the world. And that isn't a metaphor. We've got the findings & a report to back that now, says Professor Sandra Diaz, Co-chair, Global Assessment.

  • 17:35 (IST)

    How can pressure be put on the economic player to bring about a paradigm shift?

    We need to eliminate subsidies that are harmful to the environment — some companies are even incentivized to do business harmful to the environment. That, for one, needs to stop. There's many that like "GDP" as an economic model for the world. It doesn't account for natural, human or social capital, and needs to change.

    People with vested interests will oppose it. But governments need to be motivated and stay focussed on the goal at hand, says Sir Robert Watson. 

  • 17:23 (IST)

    Education is a big part of sustainable change

    Sustainability needs to be part of school curriculums for the changes we make to be lasting. It is, after all, the heritage of our future generation at stake, says Audrey Azoulay, Director-General UNESCO.

  • 17:20 (IST)

    I'm often asked, what is the scale of the problem, the urgency? 

    If we do not act now, our threatened species, which are in the thousands today, will be as extinct as the Dodo. I wear these cufflinks to remind me that time isn't running out, it already has. And that should weigh on us all till we act on the crisis responsibly, Robert Watson, Former IPBES Chair.

  • 17:12 (IST)

    There is a need for the inclusion of indigenous people and integration of biodiversity 

    Biodiversity is important in its own right. We, humans, are destroying it, and adding to the economic gap that already exists in society today. Biodiversity needs to be accounted into math we do during decision making — it has economic value, too, which we've blindly ignored thus far, says Robert Watson, Former IPBES Chair.

  • 17:11 (IST)

    We've ignored warnings for 30 years and counting

    Biodiversity isn't just a nature issue. It's an economic, moral, political and security issue. We are on the road to undermining human wellbeing for generations to come, says Robert Watson, Former IPBES Chair. Report only adds details to a message to a message that scientists have been reporting for 30 years, he adds.

  • 17:09 (IST)

    Five direct drivers of change in Nature:

    1. Changes in land & seas

    2. Direct exploitation of organism

    3. Climate change 

    4. Pollution

    5. Invasion by alien species

  • 17:08 (IST)

    Small successes towards sustainability are already making news


    Transformative change is already happening — in many sectors. There are many success stories already emerging from world over, but this isn't enough. These changes need to be commonplace for us to meet our goals — nurture & nature, says Eduardo Brondizio, Co-Chair of the Global Assessment.

  • 17:05 (IST)

    Both, the problems & solutions to climate change are local

    We need to think in context-specific ways, find solutions that look at local carbon emission rates, local pollution levels and local destruction. The solutions, too, need to be local, says Eduardo Brondizio, Co-Chair of the Global Assessment.

  • 17:01 (IST)

    Integration across countries is a must

    We need to start thinking in an integrated, international way and draft policies for conservation and sustainability in a similar way, says Eduardo Brondizio, Co-Chair of the Global Assessment report.

  • 17:00 (IST)

    The time to act for a better future is NOW!

  • 16:58 (IST)

    Indicators towards Sustainable Development Goals 

    As the rate we're going today, we're on the road to missing the global Sustainable Development Goals by a large margin, Dr Josef Settele, Co-chair of the Global Assessment Report ha said.

  • 16:55 (IST)

    More species of plants and animals are being lost in this decade than ever before. 

  • 16:49 (IST)

    Broad look at what questions the IPBES 2019 report answers

  • 16:44 (IST)

    Millions of hours & dollars worth of work

    About 40 million hours & $ 40 million have gone into the making of this report over the 5 years that experts have spent on it, says Anne Laringauderie, Executive Secretary of the IPBES. 

  • 16:39 (IST)

    Audrey Azoulay, Director-General UNESCO

  • 16:35 (IST)

    Rober Spaul, Head Communication, IPBES kicks off the launch of the report.

  • 16:31 (IST)

    Live stream of the report's key findings is a-go!

  • 16:30 (IST)

    Species loss: A slow and silent crisis

    There's a reason this report warrants worldwide. Unlike rising temperatures, which have had seen a massive rise in public awareness around the world, the slow loss of nature was a "more silent crisis," he said.

  • 16:27 (IST)

  • 16:24 (IST)

    While the powers that be need to take constructive steps, we need to do our bit as well!!

  • 16:21 (IST)

    Nature needs us to be proactive and save what's left of our species. 

    Watch the launch of the report live at 4:30 IST

  • 16:12 (IST)

    Study of changes to land, water ecosystems over 50 years

    The report doesn't survey all life on Earth. Instead, it focusses on changes to all ecosystems on land (except that of Antarctica), inland waterways and open oceans over the past 50 years. Some of the aspects that the report will cover is how the loss of species affects economies, livelihoods, food security and quality of life. 

  • 16:04 (IST)

    Conservation & sustainability of ecosystem a key area of focus

    The IPBES team of researchers has worked with indigenous people to put together the 1,800-page summary for policymakers in conservation & sustainability of ecosystems, including our own. 

  • 16:01 (IST)

    Live webcast of some of the key findings from the report starting 4.30 pm IST

     

  • 15:59 (IST)

    Sneak preview at the report's highlights

    Here's a look at some of the broad conclusions drawn in the United Nations report.

  • 15:57 (IST)

    Crux of the IPBES Report

    The report is expected to provide policymakers with an evidence-based look at the loss of species in Nature over the past decades, and what can be done to meet biodiversity targets, Sustainable Development Goals and other global objectives for natural diversity.

  • 15:54 (IST)

    The Global Assessment Report is the fifth report of its kind since 2005, prepared by 150 leading international experts across 50 countries.

  • 15:50 (IST)

    Hello Earthlings! 

    We're now less than an hour away from the launch of a major UN report that looks at the state and diversity of Nature as it stands today. 





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