Another ecological crisis that threatens our economy

Who will pollinate the fruit, for example, if all the bees, bumblebees and other pollinators in this world disappear? (Image: 123RF)

CHRONIC. Most business leaders understand the urgency of fighting climate change, as it threatens our environment, our quality of life and our prosperity. Another crisis should also be on the screen of their radar, as it is as threatening as climate change: the decline of biodiversity.

“The loss of biodiversity is one of the major global threats to society. The planet is now facing its sixth mass extinction, with consequences that will affect all life on Earth, now and in the millions of years to come.

This is not claimed by Greenpeace, but by a report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)- Biodiversity: Finance and the Economic and Business Case for Action – prepared in 2019 for the attention of G7 environment ministers. Historically, throughout the process of evolution, animal and plant species have interacted, allowing the existence of rich and diverse ecosystems. Over the course of geological time, this process is constantly producing new species, while others are dying out alike.

Also, extinction is a normal phenomenon in the history of the species, specialists say.

Today, however, the rate of extinction of the species is accelerating at an alarming pace.

In December 2021, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an organization made up of governments and civil society organizations, estimated that more than 40,000 species were threatened with extinction in the world. world, that is, more than 28% of the species assessed.

This is the first time the 40,000 species mark has been passed since the IUCN published the “Global Red List of Threatened Species”, launched in 1964.

Many factors are responsible for this murder. However, the destruction of habitats by human activities (agriculture, urbanization, industrial activities, etc.). The main reason – global warming exacerbates the phenomenon.

The decline of biodiversity is particularly dangerous for material evidence: if humanity continues to destroy biodiversity, it will become increasingly difficult to survive on this planet, starting with feeding nearly eight billion people.

Who will pollinate the fruit, for example, if all the bees, bumblebees and other pollinators in this world disappear? Those who roll their eyes when mentioning the importance of saving bees should change their mind after learning about the importance of the vital ecological services provided by nature.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), ecosystems provide us with four types of services.

1. Procurement Services

The material benefits that people derive from ecosystems, such as providing food, water, fiber, wood and firewood.

2. Regulatory services

Benefits derived from the regulation of ecosystem processes, including regulation of air quality and soil fertility, flood control or crop pollination.

3. Support services

They are required for the production of all other ecosystem services, including providing habitat areas for plants and animals, enabling species diversity and maintaining genetic diversity.

4. Cultural services

The intangible benefits that people derive from ecosystems, such as aesthetic and technical inspiration, cultural identity and spiritual well -being.

We can also measure the “economic utility” of nature.

In January, the University of Waterloo, Ontario, released a study estimating that wetlands in southern Ontario provide $ 4.2 billion ($ B) in sediment filtration and phosphorus removal.

These services maintain clean drinking water sources and help reduce harmful algal blooms in lakes and rivers. In other words, without these wetlands, this is the amount the province must pay to provide the equivalent service.

The numbers are even more impressive for the entire planet, according to the OECD. Worldwide, these ecosystem services represent an estimated value of between US $ 125,000 billion and US $ 140,000 billion per year (CA $ 160,000 to 179,000 billion), more than one and a half times the size of World GDP! The inaction costs associated with biodiversity loss are also high, the OECD points out.

Between 1997 and 2011, the world lost approximately US $ 4,000 billion to US $ 20,000 billion per year in ecosystem services due to land cover change, and US $ 6,000 billion to US $ 11,000 billion per year as a result of soil degradation.

Our environment, our quality of life, our prosperity (and that of our businesses) are based on natural capital that took billions of years to form. A capital that – that’s the beauty of the thing – provides us with invaluable essential services without us having to do anything or almost.

If it is only one: to protect it at all costs so that it can continue to deliver its ecological and economic dividend to us.

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