We can still save the planet’s fragile ecosystems

It’s “our last chance to avert climate catastrophe, reverse the deadly tide of pollution, and halt species loss.”

The planet’s ecosystems, from forests to grasslands to coral reefs, are in a precarious state. If we continue to cut down trees, turn grasslands into farmland and decimate coral reefs, many ecosystems will soon reach a point of no return.

“If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that keeps us secure: food production, access to fresh water, habitable ambient temperature and ocean food chains,” said Sir David Attenborough, the famous British naturalist and animator. , has warned. “[I]If the natural world can no longer provide for our most basic needs, then much of the rest of civilization will quickly collapse.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that we may still have time to reverse harmful trends and save the natural world, or at least what’s left of it, according to the United Nations.

“We are ravaging the very ecosystems that underpin our societies,” said António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, but “we still have time to reverse the damage we have caused.”

Even better: by protecting or restoring beleaguered ecosystems on land and in water, we can not only safeguard the Earth’s natural resources, but also create sustainable livelihoods for millions of the world’s most needy people. planet, said the UN chief.

“[Concerted actions] will create millions of new jobs by 2030, generate returns of over $7 trillion each year, and help end poverty and hunger,” Guterres observed.

The key will be what we achieve over the next decade when we can make a difference through concerted policy action, scientific research and financial investment in the environment.

It is “our last chance to avert climate catastrophe, reverse the deadly tide of pollution and halt species loss,” the UN secretary general said. “Anyone can contribute. So let today be the start of a new decade – a decade in which we will finally make peace with nature and secure a better future for all.

This message of cautious optimism is certainly welcome these days where pessimistic rhetoric tends to dominate discussions about the environment and the damage we have inflicted on our planet through greed, neglect and ignorance over the past decades and centuries.

Certainly the challenges are great, but where there is a will, there is a way, as the old saying goes.

“I want people to understand that [the] the situation we find ourselves in is serious but there is always something we can do,” stressed Jordan Sanchez, a 19-year-old environmental activist, during a recent UN-sponsored virtual meeting in which young people around the world have called for action on the environment.

“We have to stay positive and we have to act,” Sanchez added.