Ecosystem Current Affairs - 2019
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According to draft of UN report set to be released on May 6, 2019, up to One million world species are at risk of extinction due to human activity. It highlights how humanity has undermined natural resources upon which its very survival depends.
This 44-page draft report which has summarized 1,800-page assessment of scientific literature on the state of Nature conducted by the UN will be examined on 29 April, 2019 by 130 nations that will meet in Paris, France.
Key Findings of Report
- Extinction: It warns of forthcoming rapid acceleration in global rate of species extinction. With upto 1 million species at extinction risk, and one fourth of known plant and animal species already threatened, loss of species is tens to hundreds of times higher than it was, on average, over last 10 million years.
- Causes: Direct cause of species loss are continuously shrinking habitat and land-use change, hunting for food, illegal trade in wildlife body parts, climate change and pollution.
- Impact on Ecosystem: Almost three-fourth of land, half of marine environments and half of inland waterways have been ‘severely’ changed by human activity.
- This is mainly due to human activities, like overconsumption, illegal poaching, deforestation and fossil fuel emissions, which further push ecosystems toward a point of no return.
- Impact of Humans: Such depletion will harm humans, especially indigenous vulnerable groups and those living in poorest communities.
- Threat equivalent to climate change: The accelerating loss of clean air, drinkable water, forests, pollinating insects, protein-rich fish and storm-blocking mangroves are a few of diminishing services offered by Nature, which poses threat not less than that by climate change.
- Dependence on Nature: More than 2 billion people rely on wood fuel for energy, 4 billion rely on natural medicines, and 75% of global food crops require animal pollination.
- It cautions against climate change solutions that may accidentally harm nature. Example-Biofuels use combined with “carbon capture and storage” (i.e. sequestration of CO2 released when biofuels are burned) is a key in transition to green energy on a global scale. But land needed for growing biofuel crops may lead to cutting into food production, expansion of protected areas or reforestation efforts.
We need to recognise that climate change and loss of Nature are equally important, not just for environment, but also for development and economic issues. Unsustainable methods used for our food and energy production undermines regulating services we get from Nature, therefore only “transformative change” can stem the damage.
Every year, May 22 is observed as International Day for Biodiversity or World Biodiversity Day. This date commemorates the date of Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity at UNEP Headquarters, Nairobi on 22 May 1992. In 2000, UN General Assembly via resolution 55/201 decided to celebrate World Biodiversity Day on May 22 instead of December 29, which was previously designated as International Biodiversity Day.
The theme for 2017 for World Biodiversity Day is “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism”. The theme is in sync with the observance of 2017 as “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development” as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly. UN has already declared 2011-20 as United Nations Decade on Biodiversity to support and promote reducing the loss of biodiversity.
About Global Biodiversity
The term Biological Diversity was first coined by wildlife scientist and conservationist Raymond F. Dasmann in 1968. This term became widespread in use during 1980s. Biodiversity refers to the “totality of genes, species and ecosystems of a region”. There are three levels of biodiversity viz. species diversity, ecosystem diversity and genetic diversity. The term biodiveristy is used to address several problems in conservation of environment including loss of species, destruction of habitats, invasive species, genetic pollution, over exploitation and effects of climate change on biodiversity.
The spatial distribution of organisms, species and ecosystems is called Biogeography. Biodiversity is unequally distributed on Earth and it varies across regions on the basis of climatic and geographical factors. On earth, highest biodiversity is found in tropics. In comparison to Oceans, terrestrial biodiversity is much greater. It is estimated that there are 8.7 million species on earth of which 2.1 million live in Oceans while rest are terrestrial. The terrestrial biodiversity is greater at equator in comparison to poles. Around 90% of world’s biodiversity is found n tropical rainforests which occupy less than 10 percent of Earth’s surface. The marine biodiversity is highest along the coasts in the Western Pacific which is known for highest sea temperature. Around 70% of World species are found in 12 countries viz. Australia, Brazil, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico and Peru.