The Time for Action is NOW!
Climate Change and the loss of our Biodiversity is one of the most urgent challenges now facing us all, HUMANKIND. We must stop the rapid deterioration of our Natural Environment. We must value Biodiversity for its own sake, as stewards of the Living Earth which is our heritage and legacy, but we must also value it because we fundamentally rely upon it for our own lives and livelihoods.
Here are a few Biodiversity facts:
- The value of global ecosystem services is estimated at between twenty to sixty four trillion US dollars.
- More than 25,000 species become extinct every year.
- Of the world’s 5,494 mammals, 78 are extinct or extinct in the wild with 191 critically endangered, 447 endangered and 496 vulnerable.
- One third of all amphibian species are in danger of extinction, making them the most threatened group of species known to date.
- 75% of the world’s fisheries are over-exploited.
- What are we doing?
Coral reefs provide food, storm protection; jobs, recreation and other income sources, for more than 500 million people worldwide, yet 70% of coral reefs are either threatened or destroyed. Here in the Caribbean region alone, hard Coral cover has declined from 50%to 10% in the last 3 decades.
In the Caribbean, we are all coastal dwellers and are dependent on healthy marine, coastal and reef based fisheries, and in Trinidad & Tobago and up the Islands, we depend on healthy, thriving coral reefs. They are ecosystems with a high biodiversity, yet, we continue to destroy them. The economic value of ecosystem services provided by coral reefs in the Caribbean is estimated to be between US$ 1.5 and 3 billion per year. Fish species are expected to shrink in size up to 24% because of Global Warming, scientists warn.
It is estimated that the current species extinction rate is between 1000 and 10,000 times higher than it would naturally have been, and, that in the wild 137 species of plants, animals and insects are wiped out almost daily.
With the current biodiversity loss, we are witnessing the greatest extinction crisis since dinosaurs disappeared from our planet 65 million years ago. Not only are these extinctions irreversible but they also pose a serious threat to our health and well-being, our own survival. Evolution will not make good these extinctions for millions of years, but the losses could be felt within one generation.
WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
\BIODIVERSITY IS THE FOUNDATION OF LIFE ON EARTH.
It is crucial for the functioning of ecosystems which provide us with ecosystem goods and services and, without which, we, you & I, could not survive. Oxygen, food, fresh water, fertile soil, medicines, shelter, protection from storms and floods, stable climate and recreation, ALL HAVE THEIR SOURCE IN NATURE AND HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS. Our food and energy security depends on BIODIVERSITY, so does our vulnerability to Natural Hazards; And for that, we have only to take note of what is happening worldwide today. Biodiversity loss has negative effects on our health and material wealth. Threats to biodiversity are numerous and it is HUMAN ACTIVITY that is responsible for most of them…. habitat loss, degradation, fragmentation, and invasive alien species. Climate Change is Human induced!
Climate change is altering the patterns of migratory species, on land, in the air and in the sea; sometimes to their detriment.
We also have a serious problem with OVERPOPULATION! From 1950 to 2011, the world population increased from 2.5 billion to 7 billion and is forecast to reach a plateau of more than 9 billion during the 21st Century. The massive growth in human population through the 20th Century has had more impact on biodiversity and on our own health and survival than any other single factor.
Every decision we take that affects biodiversity, affects our lives and the lives of other people. Biodiversity is crucial to sustainable development, and poverty reduction, in fact, all human well-being. But people, we, have become so far removed from nature that we have forgotten how much we, all of us, rely on it.
In the long term, the value of services lost may greatly exceed the short-term economic benefits that are gained from transforming ecosystems. When we modify an ecosystem and change the service that it provides, in order to satisfy a particular human need, this also generally results in changes to other ecosystem services that we need as well. For example, actions to increase food production can lead to reduced water availability in terms of quantity & quality for other users. This can result in the degradation of many services, such as fisheries, water supply, and protection against natural disasters. These all seriously affect our well-being.
Remember, that over 350 million people suffer from severe water scarcity!
WHY SHOULD WE CARE? WELL, IT COULD HAPPEN TO US!
Biodiversity is an important resource for human beings, both for the global community and for each country. From both wild and domesticated components of biodiversity, humanity derives all its food, many medicines and many industrial products.
Biodiversity and Climate Change.
Vulnerability studies have shown that developing countries are twice as vulnerable to negative Climate Change impacts as developed countries, in fact the Caribbean is considered to be one of the most vulnerable regions in the world, to the impacts of Climate Change…changes in temperature, rainfall, the spread of many diseases, sea-level rise and hurricane intensity will all have both direct and indirect impacts on many aspects of our well-being. Small Island Developing States, in particular, Like T & T are approximately 3 times as vulnerable. Additionally, the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States are compounded by a variety of other factors like our size, our position geographically, the fragility of our ecosystems, the fact that we are somewhat isolated from big markets, our vulnerability to external economic and financial shocks and a number of other limited resources.
But what do we need to do? Make no mistake there is a lot that we can do, at home, at work, in what we do, what we pass on to others. First and most important, we must change our attitudes. Trinidad & Tobago as part of the Global Community has to make every effort to move towards clean energy technology, clean production technology, renewable energies that have almost zero emissions and the adoption of more energy efficient practices. Trinidad & Tobago must become committed to pursuing efforts geared towards reducing Greenhouse gas emissions and Government policy must be to move towards alternate fuels that have lower levels of emissions. Then there must be a better, more effective re-forestation and watershed rehabilitation programmes; regular monitoring and law enforcement. There must be planned coastal and wetland management. We must prevent and/or reduce further loss and degradation of wetlands. Repeat, repeat, there must be more Game Wardens in our country to protect our Reserves and Wildlife and to prevent the present drastic, illegal overhunting that is taking place almost daily. Ocelots, one of our endangered species continues to be hunted and slaughtered. And monkeys!! Hunted, killed and eaten!!!
WHAT MUST PEOPLE OF TRULY FIRST WORLD COUNTRIES THINK OF US?
More important, what are we here, doing about it?! Biodiversity is an important resource for human beings, both for the Global Community and for each country. It is the heart of economic productivity and livelihoods today, and its protection and maintenance is the insurance policy for future generations. As conditions change over the coming centuries, even forms of life that may appear to provide no human benefit today may become vitally important.
The protection of biological diversity is now a recognized priority on the global agenda. Even small changes in our behavior can save energy, important resources, and, help, without affecting our quality of life. It will also save us money. Only with unified and concerted effort, together with personal action and an understanding of the linkages between the natural environment, sustainability and the survival of all life, which of course includes us, will there be any hope for the future. A strong statement perhaps, but one that is very real. Climate Change and Biodiversity loss is a global problem, yet each country, each person, has the power to make a difference. Let us resolve today to make that difference!