Alerta vermelho para a espécie humana

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Los problemas más graves del planeta continuan, advierte el informe de la ONU

Nairobi/Nueva York, 25 de octubre: El Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente informa de que amenazas graves como el cambio climático, el índice de extinción de las especies y el reto de alimentar a una población en crecimiento, se encuentran entre las que aún están sin resolver. Todas ellas ponen en peligro a la Humanidad. Esta advertencia está incluida en la Perspectiva del Medio Ambiente Mundial del PNUMA: Un informe sobre un medio ambiente para el desarrollo (GEO-4) publicado 20 años después de que la Comisión Mundial para el Medioambiente y Desarrollo (la Comisión Brundtland) publicase su informe principal, “Nuestro Futuro Común”. GEO-4, el último de una serie de informes emblemáticos del PNUMA, evalúa el estado actual de la atmósfera, de la tierra, del agua y de la biodiversidad mundiales, describe los cambios acontecidos desde 1987 e identifi ca una serie de prioridades de actuación. El GEO-4 es el informe más completo de la ONU sobre el medio ambiente; ha sido preparado por unos 390 expertos y revisado por más de 1000 de todo el mundo…

Planet’s Tougher Problems Persist, UN Report Warns

Nairobi/New York, 25 October:The United Nations Environment Programme says that major threats to the planet such as climate change, the rate of extinction of species, and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the many that remain unresolved, and all of them put humanity at risk. The warning comes in UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4) report published 20 years after the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) produced its seminal report, Our Common Future. GEO-4, the latest in UNEP’s series of flagship reports, assesses the current state of the global atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity, describes the changes since 1987, and identifies priorities for action. GEO-4 is the most comprehensive UN report on the environment, prepared by about 390 experts and reviewed by more than 1 000 others across the world…

‘Será que estamos entrando na sexta grande extinção?’, diz brasileira sobre estudo da ONU de espécies ameaçadas

Relatório indica que um milhão de espécies de animais e plantas estão ameaçadas de extinção. A última vez em que um número tão elevado de seres vivos foi exterminado ocorreu há 65 milhões de anos, com o fim dos dinossauros.

Por RFI  – 06/05/2019

O relatório mais completo dos últimos 50 anos sobre o estado de conservação da natureza no mundo foi divulgado nesta segunda-feira (6), em Paris, pela Plataforma Intergovernamental sobre Biodiversidade e Serviços Ecossistêmicos (IPBES), das Nações Unidas (ONU). O documento afirma que uma destruição de espécies animais e vegetais “sem precedentes” está em curso: 1 milhão de seres vivos estão ameaçados.

“Desde que o homem existe, já houve extinções como essa. Mas será que estamos entrando na sexta grande extinção?”, afirma a antropóloga Manuela Carneiro da Cunha, uma das maiores especialistas em povos indígenas do Brasil e que participou da cúpula, realizada na Unesco.

A última vez em que um número tão elevado de seres vivos foi exterminado ocorreu há 65 milhões de anos, com o fim dos dinossauros. Desde o século 17, os estudos e a documentação sobre o tema são abundantes.

“É bastante assustador porque a extinção se acelerou muito nos últimos 50 anos. Não significa que não existisse antes – o homem sempre teve um ‘problema’ para conservar a natureza. Mas há uma aceleração evidente do ritmo da devastação.”

Um milhão de espécies de plantas e animais estão ameaçadas de extinção, segundo relatório da ONU

Mudanças possíveis

No lançamento do documento, o presidente do IPBES, Robert Watson, ressaltou que, ao destruir os ecossistemas, o homem “está acabando com os fundamentos da sua própria economia, seus meios de subsistência, segurança alimentar, saúde e qualidade de vida”. Ele indica que o desmatamento, a agricultura intensiva, a pesca excessiva, a urbanização desmedida e a extração mineral “alteram gravemente” 75% do meio ambiente terrestre e 66% do ambiente marinho. As mudanças climáticas e a poluição também são fatores que interferem nesse cenário de destruição.

Mas o relatório ressalta que a natureza ainda pode ser conservada e regenerada, desde que uma “mudança profunda” seja implementada na sociedade, destacou Watson. “Ainda existe possibilidade de mudança, mas já estamos atrasados. Ou passamos para a ação, ou vamos perder esse bonde”, afirmou Carneiro da Cunha. “Precisamos de mudanças no modo de fazer comércio e de explorar os recursos. Uma mudança estrutural.”

Conhecimento dos índios valorizado

Uma particularidade desse relatório é que incorpora o conhecimento de povos indígenas e comunidades locais sobre o estado de preservação da natureza. “Há estudos que mostram que esses povos manejam mais de um quarto as áreas terrestres. Esse conhecimento tradicional foi incorporado aos estudos científicos”, diz a antropóloga.

O relatório é resultado de três anos de pesquisas de mais de 450 cientistas, de 50 países. Eles apontam que, entre as ferramentas para enfrentar o problema da devastação, o sistema agroalimentar está em primeiro plano. Será necessária uma transformação da produção agrícola para métodos mais sustentáveis, a fim de alimentar 10 bilhões de pessoas em 2050. O documento indica, por exemplo, os efeitos negativos para a natureza do consumo de carne e produtos derivados no leite, mas não pede para que haja uma redução do consumo.

Fonte: G1 – 06/05/2019

 

Sexta extinção em massa na Terra ameaça mais de meio milhão de espécies

Como frear a destruição da natureza? Governos e cientistas se reunirão na próxima semana, em Paris, para alertar sobre o estado dos ecossistemas do planeta, golpeados pela ação do homem.

A reportagem é publicada por Clarín, 25-04-2019. A tradução é do Cepat.

Esta avaliação mundial é a primeira em quase 15 anos: 150 especialistas de 50 países trabalharam durante três anos, reunindo milhares de estudos sobre biodiversidade.

Seu relatório, de 1.800 páginas, será submetido, a partir de segunda-feira, aos 130 Estados membros da Plataforma Intergovernamental Científico-normativa sobre Biodiversidade e Serviços dos Ecossistemas (IPBES), que discutirão ponto por ponto.

“O patrimônio ambiental mundial – a terra, os oceanos, a atmosfera e a biosfera -, da qual depende a humanidade, está sendo alterado em um nível sem precedentes, com impactos em cascata sobre os ecossistemas locais e regionais”, aponta o rascunho do resumo do relatório, que poderá ser modificado, segundo informou a agência AFP.

Água potável, ar, insetos polinizadores, matas que absorvem CO2…, a constatação sobre estes recursos é tão alarmante como o último relatório do Painel Intergovernamental de Especialistas sobre a Mudança Climática (IPCC), que no ano passado destacou a lacuna crescente entre as emissões de gases do efeito estufa e o objetivo de limitar a mudança climática.

Segundo o texto, os dois fenômenos – perda de biodiversidade e aquecimento global – estão acentuados pelos mesmos fatores, entre eles, as práticas agrícolas e o desmatamento, responsáveis por cerca de um quarto das emissões de CO2.

Por sua vez, a exploração de terras e recursos (pesca, caça) é a maior causa da perda de biodiversidade, seguida pela mudança climática, poluição e espécies invasivas.

O resultado é “uma aceleração rápida, iminente, do nível de extinção de espécies”, segundo aponta o rascunho do relatório. Das 8 milhões de espécies no planeta (das quais 5,5 milhões são de insetos), “entre meio milhão e um milhão estarão ameaçadas de extinção, muitas delas nas próximas décadas”, destaca o texto.

Estas projeções correspondem às advertências de muitos cientistas que estimam que a Terra está começando a “6ª extinção massiva”.

No entanto, várias fontes do setor lamentaram que o projeto da ONU não fosse tão claro, ao não mencionar esta extinção em massa.

“Não há dúvida que nos dirigimos à sexta extinção em massa, e a primeira causada pelo homem”, declarou à AFP o presidente do IPBES, Robert Watson. “Contudo, não é algo que o público consiga ver facilmente”.

Para que haja uma tomada de consciência, “é preciso dizer que estamos perdendo insetos, matas, espécies carismáticas”. Também “os governos e o setor privado devem começar a levar a sério a biodiversidade, tanto como o aquecimento”, insistiu este cientista.

Um ano antes da aguardada reunião dos Estados-membros do Convênio da ONU sobre Diversidade Biológica (COP15), na China, muitos especialistas esperam que o relatório do IPBES signifique uma etapa crucial para um acordo de envergadura como o assinado em Paris, em 2015, contra a mudança climática, ou seja, que se fixem “objetivos de alto nível”.

“Se queremos um planeta sustentável em 2050, devemos contar com uma meta muito agressiva para 2030”, apontou Rebecca Shaw, cientista-chefe da ONG. “Assim como em relação ao clima, devemos mudar de trajetória nos próximos 10 anos”.

No entanto, dado que os “remédios” contra o aquecimento global relacionados às mudanças no sistema produtivo e de consumo suscitam, já, grandes resistências, os especialistas se perguntam o que acontecerá com a biodiversidade…

“Será ainda mais difícil porque as pessoas são menos conscientes dos problemas da biodiversidade”, afirmou Jean-François Silvain, presidente da Fundação francesa para a Investigação sobre a Biodiversidade. “Precisarão ser lúcidos”, concluiu.

Fonte: IHU – 26/04/2019

 

Planet’s tougher problems persist, UN report warns

The United Nations Environment Programme says that major threats to the planet such as climate change, the rate of extinction of species, and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the many that remain unresolved, and all of them put humanity at risk.

The warning comes in UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4) report published 20 years after the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) produced its seminal report, Our Common Future. GEO-4, the latest in UNEP’s series of flagship reports, assesses the current state of the global atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity, describes the changes since 1987, and identifies priorities for action. GEO-4 is the most comprehensive UN report on the environment, prepared by about 390 experts and reviewed by more than 1 000 others across the world.

It salutes the world’s progress in tackling some relatively straightforward problems, with the environment now much closer to mainstream politics everywhere. But despite these advances, there remain the harder-to-manage issues, the “persistent” problems. Here, GEO-4 says: “There are no major issues raised in Our Common Future for which the foreseeable trends are favourable.”

Failure to address these persistent problems, UNEP says, may undo all the achievements so far on the simpler issues, and may threaten humanity’s survival. But it insists: “The objective is not to present a dark and gloomy scenario, but an urgent call for action.”

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “The international community’s response to the Brundtland Commission has in some cases been courageous and inspiring. But all too often it has been slow and at a pace and scale that fails to respond to or recognize the magnitude of the challenges facing the people and the environment of the planet”.

“Over the past 20 years, the international community has cut, by 95 per cent, the production of ozone-layer damaging chemicals; created a greenhouse gas emission reduction treaty along with innovative carbon trading and carbon offset markets; supported a rise in terrestrial protected areas to cover roughly 12 per cent of the Earth and devised numerous important instruments covering issues from biodiversity and desertification to the trade in hazardous wastes and living modified organisms,” he added.

“But, as GEO-4 points out, there continue to be ‘persistent’ and intractable problems unresolved and unaddressed. Past issues remain and new ones are emerging?from the rapid rise of oxygen ‘dead zones’ in the oceans to the resurgence of new and old diseases linked in part with environmental degradation. Meanwhile, institutions like UNEP, established to counter the root causes, remain under-resourced and weak,” said Mr Steiner.

On climate change the report says the threat is now so urgent that large cuts in greenhouse gases by mid-century are needed. Negotiations are due to start in December on a treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate agreement which

obligates countries to control anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Although it exempts all developing countries from emission reduction commitments, there is growing pressure for some rapidly-industrializing countries, now substantial emitters themselves, to agree to emission reductions.

GEO-4 also warns that we are living far beyond our means. The human population is now so large that “the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available… humanity’s footprint [its environmental demand] is 21.9 hectares per person while the Earth’s biological capacity is, on average, only 15.7 ha/person…”.

And it says the well-being of billions of people in the developing world is at risk, because of a failure to remedy the relatively simple problems which have been successfully tackled elsewhere.

GEO-4 recalls the Brundtland Commission’s statement that the world does not face separate crises – the “environmental crisis”, “development crisis”, and “energy crisis” are all one. This crisis includes not just climate change, extinction rates and hunger, but other problems driven by growing human numbers, the rising consumption of the rich and the desperation of the poor.

Examples are:

– decline of fish stocks;

– loss of fertile land through degradation;

– unsustainable pressure on resources;

– dwindling amount of fresh water available for humans and other creatures to share; and

– risk that environmental damage could pass unknown points of no return.

GEO-4 says climate change is a “global priority”, demanding political will and leadership. Yet it finds “a remarkable lack of urgency”, and a “woefully inadequate” global response.

Several highly-polluting countries have refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. GEO-4 says: “… some industrial sectors that were unfavourable to the… Protocol managed successfully to undermine the political will to ratify it.” It says: “Fundamental changes in social and economic structures, including lifestyle changes, are crucial if rapid progress is to be achieved.”

Among the other critical points it identifies are:

Water: Irrigation already takes about 70 per cent of available water, yet meeting the Millennium Development Goal on hunger will mean doubling food production by 2050. Fresh water is declining: by 2025, water use is predicted to have risen by 50 per cent in developing countries and by 18 per cent in the developed world. GEO-4 says: “The escalating burden of water demand will become intolerable in water-scarce countries.”

Water quality is declining too, polluted by microbial pathogens and excessive nutrients. Globally, contaminated water remains the greatest single cause of human disease and death.

Fish: Consumption more than tripled from 1961 to 2001. Catches have stagnated or slowly declined since the 1980s. Subsidies have created excess fishing capacity, estimated at 250 per cent more than is needed to catch the oceans’ sustainable production.

Biodiversity: Current biodiversity changes are the fastest in human history. Species are becoming extinct a hundred times faster than the rate shown in the fossil record. The Congo Basin’s bushmeat trade is thought to be six times the sustainable rate. Of the major vertebrate groups that have been assessed comprehensively, over 30 per cent of amphibians, 23 per cent of mammals and 12 per cent of birds are threatened.

The intrusion of invasive alien species is a growing problem. The comb jellyfish, accidentally introduced in 1982 by US ships, has taken over the entire marine ecosystem of the Black Sea, and had destroyed 26 commercial fisheries by 1992.

A sixth major extinction is under way, this time caused by human behaviour. Yet to meet our growing demand for food will mean either intensified agriculture (using more chemicals, energy and water, and more efficient breeds and crops) or cultivating more land. Either way, biodiversity suffers.

One sign of progress is the steady increase in protected areas. But they must be effectively managed and properly enforced. And biodiversity (of all sorts, not just the “charismatic megafauna” like tigers and elephants) will increasingly need conserving outside protected areas as well.

Regional Pressures: This is the first GEO report in which all seven of the world’s regions emphasize the potential impacts of climate change. In Africa, land degradation and even desertification are threats; per capita food production has declined by 12 per cent since 1981. Unfair agricultural subsidies in developed regions continue to hinder progress towards increasing yields. Priorities for Asia and the Pacific include urban air quality, fresh water stress, degraded ecosystems, agricultural land use and increased waste. Drinking water provision has made remarkable progress in the last decade, but the illegal traffic in electronic and hazardous waste is a new challenge. Europe’s rising incomes and growing numbers of households are leading to unsustainable production and consumption, higher energy use, poor urban air quality, and transport problems. The region’s other priorities are biodiversity loss, land-use change and freshwater stresses.

Latin America and the Caribbean face urban growth, biodiversity threats, coastal damage and marine pollution, and vulnerability to climate change. But protected areas now cover about 12 per cent of the land, and annual deforestation rates in the Amazon are falling. North America is struggling to address climate change, to which energy use, urban sprawl and freshwater stresses are all linked. Energy efficiency gains have been countered by the use of larger vehicles, low fuel economy standards, and increases in car numbers and distances travelled. For West Asia the priorities are freshwater stresses, degradation of land, coasts and marine ecosystems, urban management, and peace and security. Water-borne diseases and the sharing of international water resources are also concerns. The Polar Regions are already feeling the impacts of climate change. The food security and health of indigenous peoples are at risk from increasing mercury and persistent organic pollutants in the environment. The ozone layer is expected to take another half-century to recover.

The Future

GEO-4 acknowledges that technology can help to reduce people’s vulnerability to environmental stresses, but says there is sometimes a need “to correct the technology-centred development paradigm”. It explores how current trends may unfold by 2050 in four scenarios.

The real future will be largely determined by the decisions individuals and society make now, GEO-4 says: “Our common future depends on our actions today, not tomorrow or some time in the future.”

For some of the persistent problems the damage may already be irreversible. GEO-4 warns that tackling the underlying causes of environmental pressures often affects the vested interests of powerful groups able to influence policy decisions. The only way to address these harder problems requires moving the environment from the periphery to the core of decision-making: environment for development, not development to the detriment of environment.

“There have been enough wake-up calls since Brundtland. I sincerely hope GEO-4 is the final one. The systematic destruction of the Earth’s natural and nature-based resources has reached a point where the economic viability of economies is being challenged and where the bill we hand on to our children may prove impossible to pay,” said Mr Steiner.

The GEO-4 report concludes that “while governments are expected to take the lead, other stakeholders are just as important to ensure success in achieving sustainable development. The need couldn’t be more urgent and the time couldn’t be more opportune, with our enhanced understanding of the challenges we face, to act now to safeguard our own survival and that of future generations” ends.

Key facts from the report

Atmosphere

There is now “visible and unequivocal” evidence of the impacts of climate change, and consensus that human activities have been decisive in this change: global average temperatures have risen by about 0.7 °C since 1906. A best estimate for this century’s rise is expected to be between a further 1.8°C and °C. Some scientists believe a 2°C increase in the global mean temperature above pre-industrial levels is a threshold beyond which the threat of major and irreversible damage becomes more plausible.

Ice cores show that the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane are now far outside their ranges of natural variability over the last 500 000 years: the Earth’s climate has entered a state unparalleled in recent prehistory. The average temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as rapidly as in the rest of the world.

Sea-level rise caused by thermal expansion of water and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets will continue for the foreseeable future, with potentially huge consequences: over 60 per cent of the population worldwide lives within 100 kilometres of the coast.

Growing ocean acidification and warmer temperatures will probably also affect global food security. Diarrhoea and malaria will become more widespread.

Present trends do not favour greenhouse gas stabilisation. Aviation saw an 80 per cent increase in miles flown between 1990 and 2003, while shipping rose from billion tonnes of goods loaded in 1990 to 7.1 billion tonnes in 2005: each sector makes huge and increasing energy demands.

Some greenhouse gases may persist in the atmosphere for up to 50 000 years.

Despite “impressive” success in phasing out ozone-depleting substances, the spring “hole” in the stratospheric ozone layer over the Antarctic is now larger than ever, allowing harmful ultraviolet solar radiation to reach the Earth.

Acid rain is now much less of a problem in Europe and North America (“one of the success stories of recent decades”), but more challenging in countries like Mexico, India and China.

Pollution

More than 50 000 compounds are used commercially, hundreds more are added annually, and global chemical production is projected to increase by 85 per cent over the next 20 years.

Environmental exposure causes almost a quarter of all diseases. More than two million people worldwide are estimated to die prematurely every year from indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Some of the progress achieved in reducing pollution in developed countries has been at the expense of the developing world, where industrial production and its impacts are now being exported.

Food

Losses in total global farm production, due to insect pests, have been estimated at about 1 per cent.

Since 1987 the expansion of cropland has slackened, but land use intensity has increased dramatically. Annually on average, a farmer then produced one tonne: output is now 1. tonnes. A hectare of cropland, which then yielded on average 1.8 tonnes, now produces 2.5 tonnes.

Unsustainable land use is causing degradation, a threat as serious as climate change and biodiversity loss. It affects up to a third of the world’s people, through pollution, soil erosion, nutrient depletion, water scarcity, salinity, and disruption of biological cycles.

The food security of two-thirds of the world’s people depends on fertilisers, especially nitrogen.

Population growth, over-consumption and the continued shift from cereal to meat consumption mean food demand will increase to 2.5?3.5 times the present figure.

By 2030 developing countries will probably need 120 million more hectares to feed themselves.

The loss of genetic diversity may threaten food security: 1 animal species make up 90 per cent of all livestock, and 30 crops dominate agriculture, providing an estimated 90 per cent of the world’s calories.

Biodiversity

About 60 per cent of the ecosystem services that have been assessed are degraded or used unsustainably; populations of freshwater vertebrates declined on average by nearly 50 per cent from 1987 to 2003, much faster than terrestrial or marine species.

Over half the world’s 6 000 languages are endangered, and some believe up to 90 per cent of all languages may not survive this century.

Water

Of the world’s major rivers, 10 per cent fail to reach the sea for part of each year because of irrigation demands.

In developing countries some 3 million people die annually from water-borne diseases, most of them under-five-year-olds. An estimated 2.6 billion people lack improved sanitation services. By 2025, water withdrawals are predicted to have risen by 50 per cent in developing countries and by 18 per cent in the developed world.

There is rising concern about the potential impacts on aquatic ecosystems, of personal-care products and pharmaceuticals such as painkillers and antibiotics.

The Unequal World

The world has changed radically since 1987, economically, socially and politically. Population has increased by almost 3 per cent, trade is almost three times greater, and average income per head has gone up by about 0 per cent.

Consumption has been growing faster than population, but unequally: the total annual income of nearly 1 billion people, the population of the richest countries, is almost 15 times that of the 2.3 billion people in the poorest countries.

There are fewer resources to share: the amount of land per capita is about a quarter of what it was a century ago, and is expected to fall to about one-fifth of the 1900 level by 2050.

Urbanization is a significant pressure: by 2025 coastal populations alone are expected to reach six billion. The year 2007 is the first in human history when more than half of all people live in cities.

Fonte : PNUE/UNEP

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