Unlikely the biodiversity crisis will improve any time soon

6 02 2020

hopelessAround a fortnight ago I wrote a hastily penned post about the precarious state of biodiversity — it turned out to be one of the most-read posts in ConservationBytes‘ history (nearly 22,000 views in less than two weeks).

Now, let’s examine whether this dreadful history is likely to get any better any time soon.

Even if extinction rates decline substantially over the next century, I argue that we are committed to an intensifying biodiversity extinction crisis. The aggregate footprint from the growing human population notwithstanding, we can expect decades, if not centuries, of continued extinctions from lag effects alone (extinction debts arising from previous environmental damage engendering extinctions in the future)1.

Global vegetation cover and production are also likely to decline even in the absence of continued habitat clearing — the potential benefit of higher CO2 concentrations for plant photosynthesis is more than offset by lower availability of water in the soil, heat stress, and the frequency of disturbances such as droughts2. Higher frequencies and intensities of disturbance events like catastrophic bushfire will also exacerbate extinction rates3.

However, perhaps the least-appreciated element of potential extinctions arising from climate change is that they are vastly underestimated when only considering a species’ thermal tolerance4. In fact, climate disruption-driven extinction rates could be up to ten times higher than currently predicted4 when extinction cascades are taken into account5. Read the rest of this entry »





Failure of the CBD 2010 targets

5 07 2010

I’m currently attending the 2010 International Congress for Conservation Biology in Edmonton, Canada. I thought it would be good to tweet and blog my way through on topics that catch my attention.

Yesterday I attended one memorable presentation by Bastian Bomhard of the United Nations Environment Programme‘s (UNEP) World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC). He provided some sobering statistics.

The opening statement in the background section of the Convention on Biological Diversity‘s (CBD) 2010 Biodiversity Target reads:

“In April 2002, the Parties to the Convention committed themselves to achieve by 2010 a significant [my emphasis] reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.”

Suffice it to say that we have failed to meet the target.

I won’t dwell too long on the fact that ‘…a significant reduction…’ is utterly meaningless, subjective and a useless policy tool (in my opinion) because it cannot be quantified as stated, Bastian did tell us that we failed even to obtain a ‘reduction’.

More specifically, parties to the CBD 2010 target agreed in 2010 to protect at least 10 % of the world’s ecological regions (ecoregions) by 2010 — almost half of the world’s terrestrial ecoregions do not meet even this modest proportional protection.

Read the rest of this entry »