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Old 03-31-2005, 05:22 PM   #1
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Two thirds of planetary life-support systems in decline, says UN report

*** I heard this on the NEWS... what are your thoughts regarding the seriousness of this issue? Do you think that this Issue should be pushed?

When i heard it on the news it was mentioned in less than 5 mins.. with attitude like it was no big deal... the article was found in the further sections of the paper.... This has me concerned that this isnt National Headlines front Page... It concerns ALL of us.. ALL our future children

Two thirds of planetary life-support systems in decline, says UN report
-- Wednesday, March 30 2005 --

OTTAWA (CP) — Human activity is putting so much pressure on ecosystems that the survival of life on Earth cannot be taken for granted, says a UN study synthesizing the work of some 1,300 researchers from 95 countries. Fifteen of 24 global ecosystems are in decline, says the Millennium Assessment, described as the most comprehensive assessment ever of the natural systems that sustain planetary life. “Nearly two thirds of the services provided by nature to human kind are found to be in decline worldwide. In effect, the benefits reaped from our engineering of the planet have been achieved by running down natural capital assets. “In many cases it is literally a matter of living on borrowed time. By using up supplies of fresh groundwater faster than they can be recharged, for example, we are depleting assets at the expense of our children.” Among the findings of the four-year study: —Global fish landings have been declining since the 1980s and in many areas are a tenth of what they were before the introduction of industrial fishing. —Up to a quarter of the water supplied to human communities is being used in larger quantities than local river systems can provide. The shortfall is being mined from underwater sources that are not replaced. —Deforestation and loss of wetlands has reduced protection against pollution and extreme events such as floods and tsunamis. —A decline in the number of insects and birds available to carry pollen for flowering plants to reproduce has serious implications for many crops. —Poor farming practices have led to desertification in dry areas of the world where two billion people live. —The majority of wildlife species are declining in abundance; 12 per cent of birds, 25 per cent of mammals and 32 per cent of amphibians are threatened with extinction over the next century. —Agricultural subsidies have directly encouraged degradation of natural systems, encouraging farmers to put unnecessary pressure on the land by stripping out valuable features such as swamps. “At the heart of this assessment is a stark warning,” says a summary of findings from the four-year research project, released Tuesday. “Human activity is putting so much strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystem to support future generations can no longer be taken for granted.” The report warns that gradual environmental changes can lead “tipping points” as happened with the Atlantic cod fishery. “The living machinery of earth has a tendency to move from gradual to catastrophic change with little warning. The buildup of nitrogen and phosphorous in lakes and estuaries can continue for years, for example, before suddenly triggering the explosive growth of toxic algae that poison water supplies. “Climate change also has the potential to tip natural systems quickly over the edge. Some models suggest that global warming could turn the Amazon within a few decades from lush forest to dry savannah.” Once such trigger points are reached it can be difficult or impossible for natural systems to recover, says the report. “More than a decade after the sudden collapse of cod stocks on the Grand Banks off Canada, for example, there are few signs of the fish returning even though the fishery has closed.” Although the picture may seem bleak there is still time to reverse the degradation, said Adeel Zafar of the UN University at Hamilton, a contributing author. He said that many agricultural countries are starting to turn from so-called monocropping — reliance on a few major crops — to greater diversity, and to reduced use of pesticides. There is also an international move to reduce state subsidies for agriculture, he noted. “Maybe I’m too optimistic but you see a lot of research coming out where you see these trends changing and evolving for the better.”
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