Monday, 30th October 2017

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Horrifying devastation of biodiversity

Saving the planet is no longer a benign, moral choice; it is an existential imperative

  • Published 13.05.19, 9:22 AM
  • Updated 13.05.19, 9:22 AM
  • a min read
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Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has come up with incontrovertible evidence of the near-annihilation of earth’s flora and fauna that would, essentially, spell doom for the planet and human civilization (Shutterstock)

The doomsday clock continues to tick. A comprehensive, first-of-its kind report put together by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has come up with incontrovertible evidence of the near-annihilation of earth’s flora and fauna that would, essentially, spell doom for the planet and human civilization. According to the IPBES’s gloomy predictions, nearly one million species of plants and animals out of the total of eight million that make up the planet’s staggering biodiversity are now threatened with untimely death. Their executioner, predictably, is the human race whose predations have stripped the environment of its power of sustenance, upending the delicate system of balance that made life possible in the first place. The scale of devastation is horrifying; 75 per cent of the earth’s land mass and 66 per cent of marine ecosystems have undergone ‘significant alteration’, while over 85 per cent of wetlands are now lost. Productivity has declined in over 20 per cent of the global landmass and millions of people are expected to be displaced as a result of natural calamities. Both these findings are portentous for India, which, given its paucity in resources, is ill-prepared for the looming crisis. The importance of the report goes beyond its primary function of putting together a map of planetary destruction. This dim assessment of the future of the planet is expected to inform and, hopefully, strengthen a number of multilateral processes, at least two conventions of the United Nations, as well as numerous international treaties, including the Ramsar Convention on wetlands. But such agreements are unlikely to have their intended beneficial effects given the criminal apathy of global political heads towards these warning signs.

The prerogatives of development and economic growth are often held up by the political constituency to explain the inertia in meaningful interventions to mitigate some of the impacts of climate change. The IPBES report strikes at the heart of this hollow argument. With the help of cold, nay, chilling data, it reiterates the point that the political fraternity no longer has the luxury of pitting development and environment as conflicting binaries. The two must be assimilated for the sake of survival. Saving the planet and its species is no longer a benign, moral choice. It is, the IPBES report reminds the world once again, an existential imperative.