WHY WE HAVE TO SAVE THE PLANET
Why is this so?
There are three basic reasons why we need an emergency response:
1. Extreme weather events, driven by human-forced global warming, are now much more frequent and are reaching levels of unacceptable impact.
2. Key climate-stabilizing systems are starting to fail. A tipping point in the Arctic has been reached that, unless urgently reversed, will cause the release of huge quantities of carbon dioxide and high-impact methane. This will push global warming beyond the point where humans and other species can cope through adaptation. Floods, storms, heatwaves, fires and droughts will be too severe to maintain the food supply for thousands of millions of people. And the economy will shrink massively for those who do survive.
3. Greenhouse gases are already too high. The last time the world had 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, which is what we have now, the sea level was 20 meters higher and 3 degrees warmer than now. Even if we could freeze greenhouse gases at current levels the impact of a 20-meter sea level rise and increased temperatures are unacceptable.
Why do we need to protect biodiversity?
We need ants to survive, but they don’t need us at all.
Prof. E. O Wilson, in How Our Health Depends on Biodiversity,
Chivian, E., Bernstein A., Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School, 2010
Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is the scientific term for the variety of life on Earth. It refers not just to species but also to ecosystems and differences in genes within a single species. Everywhere on the planet, species live together and depend on one another. Every living thing, including man, is involved in these complex networks of interdependent relationships, which are called ecosystems.
Healthy ecosystems clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. They provide raw materials and resources for medicines and other purposes. They are at the foundation of all civilisation and sustain our economies. It’s that simple: we could not live without these “ecosystem services”. They are what we call our natural capital.
Biodiversity is the key indicator of the health of an ecosystem. A wide variety of species will cope better with threats than a limited number of them in large populations. Even if certain species are affected by pollution, climate change or human activities, the ecosystem as a whole may adapt and survive. But the extinction of a species may have unforeseen impacts, sometimes snowballing into the destruction of entire ecosystems.
European diversity is unique, but the loss of biodiversity has accelerated to an unprecedented level in Europe and worldwide. It has been estimated that the current global extinction rate is 100 to 1000 times higher than the natural rate. In Europe some 42% of European mammals are endangered, together with 15% of birds and 45% of butterflies and reptiles. To list just a few examples, the Arctic fox, the Iberian lynx and the red squirrel are all under serious threat.
- We are committed to halt biodiversity loss within the EU by 2020. Find out how with the EU biodiversity strategy.
- Tackling biodiversity loss makes economic sense. Find out why in The Economics of Biodiversity.
- Nature and biodiversity are important for our health and well-being. Find out more in the study report on the Health and social benefits of nature (executive summary, annex 1 and annex 2, 3 and 4), or check out our factsheet on Looking to nature for a healthier Europe.
- We have been committed to the protection of biodiversity for a long time. Find out more about the History and background of the EU Biodiversity Policy.