I received an email a few days ago from Guillaume Chapron of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet) asking me to promote his ‘Biodiversity 100‘ campaign on ConservationBytes.com. I think it’s an interesting initiative, and so I’ll gladly spread the word.
Teaming up with George Monbiot of The Guardian, the Biodiversity 100 campaign seeks to encourage scientists and others to compile a list of 100 tasks that G20 governments should undertake to prove their commitment to tackling the biodiversity crisis.
Dr. Chapron writes:
As researchers in ecology, we strive to publish our results in the best journals, but we also wish them to be useful for advancing biodiversity conservation [my addendum: I've written recently about how little conservation research actually translates into conservation action]. With many governments stressing their strong commitment to science-based environmental policies, we could hope to reverse the biodiversity crisis [my addendum: perhaps 'slow down' rather than reverse - I'm not convinced that we'll ever 'reverse' it]. Still, it does not seem to be happening and, in fact, we often observe that pure political considerations prevail over anything else. Are we unable to reach governments or are governments just not listening?
To find out, I’m building with colleagues a list of 100 actions that if implemented would have an immediate effect to slow down biodiversity loss in G20 countries. This initiative is supported by the newspaper The Guardian and we will present this list to governments and ask them to sign up to them before the next Convention on Biological Diversity summit in October.
We are looking for actions that are
- A contribution to the safeguard of a particular endangered species or ecosystem
- Politically costly to implement or opposed by some interest groups
- Strongly and widely supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence
These actions should also be ‘S.M.A.R.T.’ i.e., Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. To maximize our impact, we may also write a scientific article about this initiative, inviting experts having contributed and documented actions making the list.
So, what set of actions would you propose? Some of the interesting ideas proposed so far include:
- heavier fines for poaching/polluting
- global ruling that areas of environmental significance must not be damaged without majority consent of global nations
- compulsory education on role of biodiversity for school children
- create national laws that radically reduce the size and power of multinational corporations
- complete ban on bottom-trawling and industrial-scale fishing
- extend marine conservation zones to include all international waters
- clearly link biodiversity loss to reduction in human well-being
- reduce pesticide use by converting “agrobusiness” to sustainable agriculture
- support sound, scientifically based habitat restoration programmes
- reduce human population growth
- introduce a globally agreed carbon tax
- and so on…
I’ll be the first to admit that the exhaustive list includes a lot of crack-pot, unrealistic, naïve or just plain silly suggestions, but there are nuggets of wisdom peppered throughout.
My opinion? To avoid repeating the obvious, I would say that the only way we can guarantee some long-term persistence of threatened species worldwide is to get a handle on our carbon emissions. The only way I can see to do that realistically is to embrace integral fast reactor technology and go as nuclear as possible. This does not preclude a high(er) penetration of renewable energy sources; however, without nuclear energy, we just won’t make it.