What could be worse than anything in the Federal Budget,or the P&C? This. That we are heading towards an uninhabitable planet.
Basics of life under threat as extinctions accelerate
TOM ARUP ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT
May 11, 2010
KEY natural processes that sustain human life, such as crop production and clean water, face a high risk of ''rapid degradation and collapse'' because of the record rate of extinction of animal and plant species.
That is the key finding of a major United Nations report, the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook.
The executive-secretary of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf, said: ''The news is not good. We continue to lose biodiversity at a rate never before seen in history - extinction rates may be up to 1000 times higher than the historical background rate.
''Business as usual is no longer an option if we are to avoid irreversible damage to the life-support systems of our planet.''
The Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, said the world needed a ''new vision for biological diversity for a healthy planet and a sustainable future for humankind''.
The outlook finds extinction rates of plant and animal species will continue and potentially accelerate far above the natural rate across this century. Threatened species are on average moving closer to extinction due to the impact of humans and climate change. Coral and amphibians are under the most stress.
The report states that if the rate of species extinction hits crucial ''tipping points,'' not yet identified, there is a high risk that natural systems that help crops grow and keep water clean could be damaged irreversibly.
''This makes the impacts of global change on biodiversity hard to predict, difficult to control once they have begun, and slow, expensive or impossible to reverse once they have occurred,'' the report states.
Other findings include:
The genetic diversity of crops and livestock is continuing to decline: more than 60 breeds of livestock have been reported extinct since 2000.
A target to halt species extinction rates by 2010 was not reached by any of the 193 signatories to the UN biodiversity treaty, including Australia.
The small bits of good news include slowing deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and more areas under environmental protection across the planet.
The findings will be used this year to negotiate a global agreement to slow extinction rates.
An Australian ecologist, Hugh Possingham, said Australia's biodiversity record was no better than elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Australian scientists have warned half the Earth could become too hot for human habitation in less than 300 years.
The research by the University of NSW and Purdue University, in the US, is published today in the American Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.