Is Anyone Paying Attention to the Biodiversity Conference of the Parties?
The United Nations is a talking society. Talking has at all times been a greater idea than warfare, and so the U.N. performs a critical function. Still, some talk is more necessary than other talk. Currently, the fifteenth United Nations Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (COP15) is underway in Montreal. They are attempting to work out something they haven’t been capable of do at the opposite 14 biodiversity conferences they’ve held: How will we reduce the huge species loss being imposed on the planet by humans? As Catrin Einhorn and Lauren Leatherby reported in last week’s Recent York Times:
“Wildlife is disappearing all over the world, within the oceans and on land. The principal cause on land is probably probably the most straightforward: Humans are taking up an excessive amount of of the planet, erasing what was there before. Climate change and other pressures make survival harder. This week and next, nations are meeting in Montreal to barter a recent agreement to handle staggering declines in biodiversity. The long run of many species hangs within the balance.”
I at all times find the coverage of those conferences fascinating as reporters and delegates gather and pretend that they’re participating in and covering a terrific arena of worldwide decision-making. The truth is, whatever is agreed to—if anything is agreed to—can’t be enforced in a world of sovereign nations. Any resemblance to operational reality could be purely coincidental. Maybe even worse: it seems that nobody is being attentive.
I do know that when pressed, many individuals at COP15 will admit that the true goals of the meeting are far less dramatic than the stated goal of stopping species extinction and maintaining biodiversity. Like their older and more popular sibling, the Climate COP, they’re hoping to focus the world’s attention on a critical environmental problem. Their focus just isn’t climate change but ecological well-being. America will attend the meeting but just isn’t a celebration to the convention. Biodiversity and ecology usually are not at the middle of worldwide diplomacy or national policymaking. If this can be a media extravaganza, it’s decidedly low-key. Biodiversity loss just isn’t a recent story, it’s centuries within the making. In keeping with Einhorn and Leatherby:
“While countries in the worldwide south are experiencing probably the most dramatic biodiversity losses straight away, Europe and america went through their very own severe declines a whole lot of years ago… Now, with negotiations underway in Montreal, countries which are poor economically but wealthy in biodiversity argue that they need assistance from wealthier countries in the event that they’re going to take a unique route. Overall, the financial need is daunting: a whole lot of billions per 12 months to assist poorer countries develop and implement national biodiversity plans, which would come with actions like creating protected areas, restoring degraded lands, reforming harmful agricultural, fishing and forestry practices; managing invasive species; and improving urban water quality. However, failing to handle biodiversity loss carries enormous financial risk.”
In some instances, the climate goals and biodiversity goals overlap, because preserving natural areas might help reduce and absorb greenhouse gases. But the necessity for funding for the Global South places the biodiversity COP and the climate COP in an unacknowledged competition for a similar scarce financial resources. Biodiversity has been losing on this competition for a very long time. I believe it is probably going since the biodiversity crisis is each more complex and subtle than the climate crisis. Climate change is a comparatively easy and simple problem that’s well understood. Climate models have turn into more accurate over the past quarter century because the small variety of critical aspects influencing climate change have turn into higher understood. Furthermore, the predictions of climate impact on account of sea level rise and extreme weather events have proven to be accurate and widespread. We’re all experiencing the impact of climate change. While the reactionary governor of Florida only mentions climate science to disclaim it, he continues to be spending billions of dollars to construct the resiliency needed to adapt to climate change. He may not acknowledge the science of climate change, but he knows he must take care of its impacts.
Although the climate problem is comparatively easy for non-ideologues to internalize, biodiversity just isn’t as easy to know. The interconnections and relationships between elements of our living biosphere are much more complex than climate change and fewer understood. We’re learning more every day about species interdependencies, but there continues to be a terrific deal we have no idea. Once we lose a species, it becomes a recent scientific fact, and the connection of that loss to other losses requires years of careful study to know. The general impact of massive biodiversity loss continues to be being studied, and we want loads more research before we get an actual handle on these problems. As well as, the knowledge we’ve gained has not been effectively communicated.
The climate crisis has resulted in a proposed SEC corporate carbon disclosure rule, but an identical disclosure rule on ecosystem damage, risk, and impact just isn’t on the policy agenda. COP27 received massive global attention. COP15 is a well-kept secret. Moreover, whoever planned COP15 decided December 7-19 can be a great time for a world meeting in the attractive but quite cold city of Montreal. Even worse, it conflicts with the December 12-16 Annual Meeting of the AGU (American Geophysical Union)—typically in San Francisco, although this 12 months in Chicago. In case you might be wondering, the AGU:
“Fall Meeting is probably the most influential event on this planet dedicated to the advancement of Earth and space sciences. Every 12 months, AGU Fall Meeting convenes >25,000 attendees from 100+ countries to share research and network. Researchers, scientists, educators, students, policymakers, enthusiasts, journalists and communicators attend AGU Fall Meeting to higher understand our planet and environment, and our role in preserving its future. It’s a results-oriented gathering rooted in celebrating and advancing positive individual and collective outcomes.”
Not only are the earth scientists more likely to be absent, the one head of state attending COP15 is the host, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It’s clear that the climate folks have hired a greater public relations team than the biodiversity group. The COP15 secretariat needs to rent a team of execs expert enough in events management to avoid conflicting with holidays, the AGU, and the World Cup.
My Columbia sustainability students and my colleagues on the Columbia Climate School were desperate to attend COP27 and were visible participants in lots of events. Students requested funds to assist them travel to Egypt for the conference, and the Climate COP was an exquisite learning experience for lots of its attendees. In contrast, nobody from my university appears to be going to Montreal, and in the event that they are, they aren’t talking about it.
I’m not trying to reduce the importance of climate change because it is kind of obviously an existential crisis for our planet. But biological threats starting from COVID-19 to species extinction are a minimum of as dangerous. A part of the danger is that we don’t yet fully understand the impact of this threat. As Einhorn and Leatherby observed within the Recent York Times:
“Biodiversity, or all the range of life on the planet — including plants, invertebrates and ocean species — is declining at rates unprecedented in human history, in keeping with the leading intergovernmental scientific panel on the topic. The group’s projections suggest that one million species are threatened with extinction, many inside a long time.”
Unprecedented declines result in uncharted impacts. The 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity has been endorsed by 196 nations but not america. Perhaps it’s time for our nation to affix in and focus greater attention on these issues. Human domination of Earth is here to remain. Let’s hope it doesn’t end in human destruction of the one planet we’ve and the just one known to support human life.