Opinion » Columnists

Time bomb waiting to explode

Selfishness of world's richest nations creates environmental catastrophe

Despite many pledges, the world's richest nations have failed to produce the funds to protect the environment. As billions are wasted on war, experts claim that up to one eighth of the world's bird species are threatened with extinction, which if it happens, will be the first stage of an environmental disaster on a global scale.

BirdLife, a partnership of around 100 conservation groups worldwide, has issued its report State of the World's Birds 2004, which claims that 1,211 species of birds - one eighth of the world's total - are in danger of extinction.

The director of BirdLife, Dr. Michael Rands, has declared that lack of financial aid in establishing protected areas is causing the loss of biodiversity "at an alarming rate". The editor of the report, Dr. Leon Bennum, adds that "Birds are excellent environment indicators and what they are telling us is that there is a fundamental malaise in the way we treat our environment".

Why is this happening? Because the world's richest nations have reneged on their pledges to pay for environmental protection schemes. The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and ratified by 188 countries. Under the CBD, developed countries committed themselves to funding environmental programmes for poorer nations.

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002), the international community agreed on the need to set objectives for reducing biodiversity loss and the World Parks Congress in 2003 stipulated that 20 billion USD would be needed annually to maintain the protected areas, producing health benefits worth around four thousand billion USD.

However, not only have these objectives yet to be set, but governments have started bickering as to how much they should pay. Meanwhile, the problem grows by the day. Less than one per cent of the world's oceans are protected. 88% of coral reefs in south-east Asia are threatened by logging, agriculture and urban development.

Alistair Gammell of the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, claims that "Climate change poses a huge extinction risk to more than one million species", adding that "If we do not take the measures needed to provide these areas (of protection), we will be guilty of neglect on a huge scale".

Once again, the developed nations behave like ostriches with their heads in the sand, pretending to address serious issues and disguising their lack on interest with lavish conferences and summits that mean nothing unless they are put into practice. Meanwhile, thousands of species of birds, mammals and plants are threatened with extinction.

These are the first victims of a chain of events which will eventually knock at the door of Mankind.

 

Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY
PRAVDA.Ru