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Stealth Doomsday


Today’s Globe & Mail features an AP story about species under threat of extinction. (See below) The story fits in my mind with the global warming story, and the saga of human population growth. It appears that by mid-century, let’s call it 2050 for simplicity sake, the topping out of the population at plus or minus nine billion will coincide with the heat “already in the pipeline” (in the oceans) hitting the climate hard, at the same time as China and India will have upleveled their consumption rates to those of so-called “first world” countries like the United States. So even if people in North America and Europe tighted their belts a bit, it may be too late. The train will already have left the station, and the collapse of ecological systems around the world will begin in earnest.
The combination of warming, natural resource extraction, pollution, rainforest destruction, desertification and topsoil depletion, etc., etc. will put incredible pressure on natural systems that are already in decline and animals, plants fish and birds that are currently being forced into smaller and smaller pristine sanctuaries. It won’t be any “one” thing that will do them in; rather, it will be the combination — a combination we can’t control, at least not with current approaches and lifestyle demands.
This the apocalyptic situation to which environmental activists point. You may disagree with it, or not. I am myself still muddling through the issues, trying to weigh how much weight and credence to put on which reports, and which sets of information. But before you read the short article below, I leave you with this thought: Is it not the case that this is the single most important issue of our time? Yes, fighting terrorism, poverty, hunger, disease, and so on are incredibly important. But answering the questions and resolving the issues related “sustainability” — the nexus — seem to me to be the larger concern, of which everything else is sort of a subset. Now here’s the article:
Action urgent to protect species, biodiversity conference told
Associated Press
Rio de Janeiro — Countries around the world must turn talk into action if they are to halt the loss of thousands of plant and animal species each year, mostly because of human activity, Brazil’s Environment Minister said Monday.
Environment Minister Marina Silva opened a United Nations-sponsored conference on biological diversity by calling on delegates from 173 countries to translate pledges to protect the environment into concrete action.
“For a long time, I have been expressing my concern about the growing number of multilateral environmental agreements that are approved but aren’t implemented,” Ms. Silva told the eighth Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, known as COP-8.
Despite numerous pledges at past meetings, the world’s environment has continued to deteriorate and an “unprecedented effort” would be required to repair the damage, she said.
UN officials say some 60,000 animal and plant species disappear every year, despite pledges at the last conference held in Malaysia to curb extinctions by 2010.
“To reverse this process, which is basically the result of human activity, will require an effort without precedents, with a strong and determined response from all of global society,” Ms. Silva said.
At the conference, which is being held in the southern city of Curitiba, 650 kilometres southwest of Rio de Janeiro, delegates will discuss goals for protecting the environment under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The UN convention, which sprang from the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, has been ratified by 188 countries.
The delegates will also discuss the possibility of negotiating a new international treaty on access to genetic resources.
Developing countries have been trying to establish a legally binding international treaty to guarantee them a share of the profits from medicines and agricultural projects developed from native plants and animals. Developed countries, however, are generally opposed to such a treaty.
Some 4,000 diplomats, environmentalists and scientists were expected to attend the 11-day conference.
Environmental ministers from nearly 100 countries are expected to arrive in Curitiba on Sunday to meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and to participate in the conference’s final three days.


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