Ebene Magazine – Economic growth has « a devastating cost to nature »

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February 2, 2021

by Patrick Galey

The unbridled growth of humanity in recent decades has caused « a devastating cost to nature » according to a comprehensive international review of the vital economic role of our living planet.

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The 600-page review of scientific material commissioned by the UK government highlighted the precarious state of global biodiversity and warned that nothing less than a profound change in the way countries drive economic growth, prevent catastrophic effects on nature and humanity.

The Dasgupta Review – a two-year collaboration between hundreds of scientists from around the world, presented by Partha Dasgupta, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Cambridge University, is looked after – says that all livelihoods depend on the health of the planet.

It was shown that the global capital produced per person had doubled in the three decades since 1992, while the stock of natural capital – ie the quantifiable benefits that an individual draws from services provided by nature – by 40 percent « While humanity has thrived immensely over the past few decades, the way we have achieved such prosperity means that it has been at a devastating cost to nature, » the review reads.

She called for fundamental redress for the demands of mankind and what nature has to offer and warned that biodiversity is closely linked to human well-being and health.

Some species are dying out up to 1,000 times faster than the historical average, « which undermines the productivity, resilience and adaptability of nature, » the review says.

It warned that disaster-related issues could become with natural losses – including the Covid-19 pandemic triggered by land use changes and species exploitation – could prove to be the « tip of the iceberg » if development continued at the current rate.

« We are totally dependent on nature, » wrote the famous naturalist David Attenborough in a foreword to the review.

« It provides us with every oxygenated breath we take and every sip of food we eat.

 » But we are currently damaging it so badly that many of its natural systems are on the verge of collapse. « 

The economic benefits of biodiversity have historically been missed in growth models, skewing the value of capital accumulation and leaving important conservation programs chronically underfunded, the review says.

At an estimated $ 4 to 6 trillion per year spent on unsustainable economic activities such as fossil fuel use and harmful cultivation techniques, « governments are exacerbating the problem by paying people more to exploit nature than to protect it, » she added. p> It called for a new way of defining economic well-being that takes nature’s services into account, around the traditional GDP model However, it cautioned that choosing a more sustainable growth path would « require transformative change, underpinned by ambition, coordination and political will similar to or greater than that of the Marshall Plan » / p> Such a sustainable future would include a full decarbonization of the global energy system, the review said.

Furthermore, proper management of the earth’s precious resources would encourage people in richer countries to change consumption and wasteful habits and giving women better access to finance and education.

« It has never been more important to consider the economics of nature and the role of biodiversity in supporting a healthy economy, » said Guy Poppy, Professor of Ecology at the University of Southampton which was not involved in the review.

« Two of the greatest challenges humanity is currently facing – climate change and Covid – illustrate the need to connect the economy with the environment and rethink how we can become more prosperous and healthier in the future. »

The review pointed to two major summits in 2021 – the COP15 talks on biodiversity and the COP26 meeting on climate change – as ways to undo the damage humanity has done to their only home.

« We and our descendants deserve nothing less, » it said.

© 2021 AFP

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