Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

24 Feb 2021

Making Peace with Nature

Posted by Michael Keating

Once more the United Nations has sounded the tocsin on the threats environmental decline poses for our well-being. Its latest report, Making Peace With Nature, lays out grim scenarios. We are creating “…a world of extreme weather events, sea level rise, a drastic loss of plants and animals, food and water insecurity and increasing likelihood of future pandemics,” said report lead author Sir Robert Watson. “The emergency is in fact more profound than we thought only a few years ago,” he added. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said humans “have been waging a senseless and suicidal war on nature,” and “We are close to the point of no return.” The climate is becoming more unstable, millions die from air pollution, land is becoming less fertile, fisheries are in decline and food supplies put at risk. All this is driven by unsustainable forms of production and consumption.

First World War devastation of nature

The report applies a new twist to the war metaphor. Guterres says making peace with nature will be “the defining task of the coming decades.” Drawing parallels with recovery efforts from past military conflicts, the report proposes “a peace plan and a post-war rebuilding programme.” We have to reach net zero carbon emissions, and transform how we produce food, and manage our land, water and oceans. The UN says governments should look beyond economic growth as an indicator of performance and take account of the value of preserving ecosystems. They need to redirect vast amounts of money now spent to support fossil fuels when we are supposed to be phasing them out. The timing is good. The echoes the calls of many governments for a green recovery from the economic devastation of COVID-19, something that seems to have broad public support.

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