Thursday :: Mar 31, 2005

Earth's Health Report Card: Prognosis Poor


by Mary

Our earth's ecosystem is under attack and has gotten weaker in the past 50 years. These are the results of an assessment on the earth's ecosystem sponsored by the UN. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment reports that on all fronts, the world is losing its carrying capacity for life as the basics such as water, food, timber, clean air and a predictable climate are being overused or no longer dependable for supporting life.

"These (ecosystem) changes have resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss to the biological diversity of the planet," said Walter Reid, the study's director, at yesterday's London launch of the United Nations-backed report.

"Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel," the report said. "This has resulted in substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth."

The report predicts the consequences of environmental degradation will include the emergence of new diseases, inadequate clean water supplies, continued collapse of fisheries and dramatic changes in regional climates.

Supporting evidence for this dire story is the Marburg outbreak in Angola which is worse than previous outbreaks (117 deaths out of 124 cases so far). Or the loss of the huge pantanal wetlands in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. The warming oceans that are leading to the bleaching of the huge coral reefs. And the melting permafrost in the Artic circle.

What is so frustrating about all of this, is that we know what to do to begin to mitigate the problems and we have some excellent technology that would help us in stopping the decline. Yet, we do nothing.

The other day I heard a speech by Lester Brown, the founder of the Earth Policy Institute, who warned about how we were running out of potable water and this was going to be a much bigger problem than running out of oil. When he was asked why we didn't see any leaders in the US stepping up to this problem, he said that sometimes humanity gets a Churchill and sometimes they get a Nero. Today, the US has a Nero.

Sometimes when the rulers will not lead, it is our responsibility to make them get out of the way.

Mary :: 4:10 AM :: Comments (18) :: Digg It!