Nature Blog Network Future Earth: £40 billion? Going...... going.....

Friday, 30 May 2008

£40 billion? Going...... going.....

Stern has done it for climate change, can "TEEB" (The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity") review, do it for biological diversity? Launched at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meetings in Bonn this week, TEEB demonstrates that the ongoing loss of ecosystems and biodiversity is costing the planet £40 billion a year - hitting the poorest hardest of all.

What do we need to do? Mostly the same things that will also reduce the speed of climate change (leaving aside the complexities of biofuels). Use less energy, consume (much) less per capita, waste less and conserve the natural resources we have. All of us. Will we?

One of the first crises to bite, and that might make us sit up and take notice, is the one that has been lurking unseen beneath the surface of the ocean - o
verfishing. The TEEB review demonstrates how all of the world's fisheries are likely to collapse within 50 years if current trends are not reversed. A billion people rely on fish protein. A few weeks ago I came across these two fishermen on the edge of the Java sea, picking miniscule remnants of the evening's meagre catch out of their precious nets. The sea from which they feed their families was letting them down - they were the "small guys" for whom the declining stocks meant immediate hunger and no prospects for their children. Thats a powerful fermentor of discontent spreading around the coastlines of the world.

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