Environment Current Affairs - 2019
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According to a study, called Global Assessment about 40% of amphibian species and more than a third (33%) of all marine mammals are threatened.
The report released by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries and supported by 130 countries (including the U.S., China and Russia). It contained a petition of estimates made after three-year review of about 15,000 scientific papers.
Key Highlights of Report
- Up to one million of estimated eight million plant, insect and animal species on earth is at risk of extinction, with many within decades.
- Up to 40% of amphibian species and more than a third (33%) of all marine mammals are threatened.
- Cause: According to report species face risk because of relentless pursuit of economic growth, twinned with impact of climate change. Industrial farming and fishing are other major drivers of threat. It also shows deep impact of rise of globalised industrial society on earth over past half century (50 years). This loss is direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being through-out the world.
- Only a wide-ranging transformation of economic and financial system globally could pull our ecosystems back from brink of collapse.
- It reiterates message by United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which stressed that profound economic and social changes would be needed to curb greenhouse gases (GHGs) quickly enough to avert most devastating consequences of warming in world.
- It suggests that world may need to embrace a new “post-growth” form of economics if it is to avert existential risks posed by the mutually-reinforcing
- Way Forward: The findings of Global Assessment will add pressure on countries to come out with a bold action plan to protect wildlife at 15th session of Conference of the Parties to the Conference on Biodiversity (CBD), taking place in China in October 2020.
- It was founded by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on 21 April 2012.
- It is headquartered in Bonn, Germany.
- It is a global scientific body similar in composition and functioning of IPCC.
- Function: It is an intergovernmental body established by UN to assess state of planet’s biodiversity and of ecosystem services it provides to society, in response to requests from decision makers.
- Members: At present over 130 governments are its member States. India is its founding member.
As per recently published US-based World Resources Institute (WRI) report, world lost 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of tropical tree cover in 2018. It is fourth largest annual decline since global satellite data become available in 2001. According to report, with such decline world’s forests entered in ‘emergency room’ implying that planet’s health is at stake and mere band-aid response will not help.
- Study showed new deforestation hotspots in Africa, like Ghana and Ivory Coast, the increase in tree loss was due to illegal mining, small-scale forest clearing and expansion of cocoa farms.
- Most destruction was seen in Brazil (13,500 sq-km), Congo (4,800 sq-km), Indonesia (3,400 sq-km), Colombia (1,800 sq-km), Bolivia (1,500 sq-km) and Madagascar lost 2% of its entire rainforest in 2018
- Only Indonesia showed reduction in loss of its primary forest from past 2 years. It has world’s 3rd largest total area of tropical forest and is biggest producer of palm oil. Therefore, forest destruction was mainly due to land clearance for oil-palm plantations, which was reduced once government imposed a moratorium on forest-clearing.
- According to annual assessment by scientists of Global Forest Watch ( which uses satellite imagery and remote sensing to monitor tree cover losses from Brazil to Ghana) almost 1/3rd of area destroyed (~36,000 square km) was pristine primary rainforest ( consists of mature trees that absorb more carbon and are harder to replace).
- According to Mighty Earth, (a global environmental campaign organization), deforestation causes more climate pollution than all world’s cars, trucks, ships and planes combined.
Importance of Forest
- Forests act as Carbon sink by absorbing about 30% of man-made GHG emissions (over 11 billion tons of CO2 per year) on other hand ocean soaks another 23%. So, losing vast tracts of tropical forest not only releases carbon into atmosphere, it also reduces size of carbon sink. Therefore, it is vital to protect what we still have.
- Because of deforestation, indigenous communities are most vulnerable to losing their homes and livelihoods, aggravates climate change (as absorb 1/3rd of planets greenhouse gas emissions produced globally), biodiversity loss.
About World Resources Institute
It is a global research non-profit organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. It was established in 1982. It works to promote environmental sustainability, economic opportunity, human health and well-being. Its focuses on 7 key areas: food, forests, water, energy, cities, climate and ocean.