Tendências emergentes, factos e dados reveladores da evolução dos media, cultura, economia e sociedade. Impacto social, económico e cultural da tecnologia.


quarta-feira, março 30, 2005

Study highlights global decline

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was drawn up by 1,300 researchers from 95 nations over a period of four years.
It reports that humans have changed most ecosystems beyond recognition in a dramatically short space of time.
The way society has sourced its food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel over the past 50 years has seriously degraded the environment, the assessment (MA) concludes.
The current state of affairs is likely to be a road block to the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by world leaders at the United Nations in 2000, it says.
"Any progress achieved in addressing the goals of poverty and hunger eradication, improved health, and environmental protection is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem 'services' on which humanity relies continue to be degraded," the report states.
The MA is slightly different to all previous environmental reports in that it defines ecosystems in terms of the "services", or benefits, that people get from them - timber for building; clean air to breathe; fish for food; fibres to make clothes.
More land was converted to agriculture since 1945 than in the 18th and 19th Centuries combined. More than half of all the synthetic nitrogen fertilisers - first made in 1913 - ever used on the planet were deployed after 1985.
The MA authors say the pressure for resources has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in diversity of life on Earth, with some 10-30% of the mammal, bird and amphibian species currently threatened with extinction.
They report only four ecosystem "services" have been enhanced in the last 50 years: increases in crop, livestock and aquaculture production, and increased carbon sequestration for global climate regulation.
Two services - fisheries and fresh water - are now well beyond levels that can sustain current, much less future, demands. The experts warn these problems will substantially diminish the benefits for future generations.
The assessment runs to 2,500 pages and is intended to inform global policy initiatives. It says changes in consumption patterns, better education, new technologies and higher prices for exploiting ecosystems could all help slow the damage being done to the planet.
The MA has cost some $20m to put together. It was funded by the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the World Bank and others.
"This report is essentially an audit of nature's economy, and the audit shows we've driven most of the accounts into the red," commented Jonathan Lash, the president of the World resources Institute.
"If you drive the economy into the red, ultimately there are significant consequences for our capacity to achieve our dreams in terms of poverty reduction and prosperity."



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