‘There is no Planet B’
From the Climate Crisis to the Extinction Crisis
What is happening and what must happen now-and fast
Dr Johannes Bauer
The Australian Institute of Ecological Agriculture Co-operative Ltd
Climate Change and Biodiversity Program
Having worked in and for the environment and conservation ‘forever’ so it seems to me, and even before I studied forestry and biology in Freiburg (1971-1981) almost half a century ago, the Extinction Rebellion, came as a surprise to me. How is it, I asked myself that suddenly a critical point is reached when things go, in present day language – VIRAL.
The reason for this is straightforward: They had reached a critical mass, which was ignited by one spark which was called the “Extinction Rebellion”. Unbeknown to most people however, the champion (which is rarely called that), the United Nations with its many agencies and working groups, had been organising expert meetings for decades before: compiling, comparing, analysing, discussing, negotiating and quite regularly agreeing to and implementing, far reaching treaty’s, protocols and international conventions based on all that.
This is how mercury poisoning of the oceans stopped, how the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 1991) with its Panels like IPPC were formed and how, more recently, a much less known body, the International Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES,2012) had been created to address these two defining threats of our time. Also, to negotiate and lobby within governments, many of the body’s representatives were seconded from government departments. To me this international process, not just championed but made happen by the United Nations is by far the greatest achievement of international diplomacy ever. It goes without saying that the work of 10 000s of scientists around the world was the crucial tool in that process.
About time too! Because this is now all what stands between humanity and a double (multiple) pronged disaster dragon it has created. One that will devour humanity without any doubt whatsoever, if it does not follow the advice of these bodies and act NOW together with everything we have got.
All the organisations and scientific understanding created are now needed. Governments need to cooperate with and support science and civil society, not fight against them as is so often the case. And we have to stop using neoliberal economics and its vacuous economolingo (‘NO! climate change is NOT an opportunity or even a challenge but a HUGE THREAT’) as THE benchmark for that action. Because at this stage we have almost made it irrelevant as it has become a simple matter of survival, not of making money, or more of it! If we do not, it is easy to predict that humanity will cease to be what it has become, its magnificent aspirations and achievements gone, within the next generation. This is how far we have come. And more to the point: THIS IS HOW FAR WE CAN GO WITHOUT DESTROYING OUR WONDERFUL PLANET AND OUR CHILDRENS FUTURE!
There is hope, but we have to grasp this moment. Let me give you the latest example from the IPBES Global assessment which is now all over the news. The four key messages extracted by IDDRI, A French institution, takes four key messages out of this scary report which are beacons of hope. Because we can do them, if we have the will. They are also spot on. Humanity is overly lucky that whatever action we carry out on climate change can also address the biodiversity crisis and the destruction of our world communities for the corporate monster we have created. BUT ONLY IF CURRENT COOPERATION AND RESOURCES ARE TAKEN TO A HIGHER LEVEL. Also if Civil Society and people come together and exerts pressure (Yes they call it Civil Disobedience now and rightly so) towards its leaders who mostly refuse to lead. Change those who are unwilling/incapable to learn.
From IPCC to IPBES
Seven years after its official launch, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), sometimes called the “IPCC for biodiversity”, released its Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on May 6 2019.
KEY MESSAGES N° 06 MAY 2019 (From IDDRI)
- The Global Assessment shows that biodiversity collapse on the continents is primarily due to land use changes related to agriculture*, particularly linked to the increased consumption of animal products. Regarding oceans, pressure from fisheries* is the main cause of the decline. This suggests the adoption of commitments relating to food and agricultural systems.
- The political progress that has been achieved relates mainly to the adoption of texts. However, the implementation of such texts is lacking, calling for some political efforts to be shifted towards their practical realisation.
- Part of the solution will be based on “indigenous peoples and local communities”, for whom the report highlights their numerical significance and their major role in biodiversity preservation. This suggests designing modes of economic and social development that both protect and rely on these populations.
- Upcoming negotiations for the renewal of the CBD post-2020 framework could address the issue of objectives that target food and agriculture in particular. This is also the case for the WTO negotiations on fishery subsidies, as well as the negotiations on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda
From: Laurans, Y., Rankovic, A. (2019). The ongoing biodiversity loss and how it can be stopped. A reading of the IPBES Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. IDDRI, Issue Brief N°06/19
Available at: WWW.IDDRI.ORG @IDDRI_THINKTANK
My own comments
It needs to be added and stressed that what the IPBES assessment (and the IDDRI summary) really means to address is what we in Australia call PRIMARY PRODUCTION (agriculture, fisheries, forestry, mining). All of these need to be viewed and addressed together in ways we never even thought of. Agriculture must cease to be the enemy of forests and rivers and oceans but become part of the organic supersystems they are within our ONE AND ONLY PLANET: Earth. There is no Planet B.
About the Author. Johannes Bauer is the leader of AIEA’s Climate Change & Biodiversity Program and has restored over the past 30 years 300 hectares of degraded pastural land. He has worked for many years in international conservation& forest management and advised for the United Nations extensively.