4 Jan 2010

2010 – The Year of Biodiversity

It’s not just about climate change. The UN has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity - and the big political set-piece is October's meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in Japan. Given the debacle at Copenhagen, can our leaders do any better at trying to save the biosphere and its inhabitants ?

Eight years ago, governments set themselves the target of significantly curbing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. It's a target that isn't going to be met, a depressingly familiar story in the world of environmental targets. The October meeting will discuss why it hasn't been met, whether anything can be done about it, and whether a different kind of target is needed now.

Some will argue why are we wasting time worrying about saving a few trees, insects, birds etc. Well, we should worry about it. We need to share the planet with a diverse set of species – not just because of warm, fuzzy feelings about saving species like the tiger, but perhaps more importantly to the majority, because we depend on services provided by ecosystems (e.g. pollination, water purification etc) for our survival. Such services only function properly when ecosystems are populated by diverse groups of species.

So, as with climate change, this isn’t another moralistic sermon from the ‘green’ pulpit of environmentalism. This is about ensuring the planet survives in the longer term in such a form that allows the human race to survive. I’m sure many other species would argue whether that’s a good idea, but there can’t be many humans that think that saving their own species is a waste of time, can there ?

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