3% of world's ecosystems intact, Guardian reports

A recent article from the Guardian reports that just 3% of the world’s diverse ecosystems remain intact with healthy animal populations.

The word “intact” is being used in a somewhat alarmist term as it simply means that 3% of the world’s ecosystems have been untouched by human activity.

So, the headline does not necessarily mean that only 3% of the world’s ecosystems remain, if that were the case, we would likely not be here to write about this article.

Nevertheless, the headline has received public attention, especially within the social media app, Twitter, as activists such as Greta Thunberg have retweeted the article.

The Guardian article reports that the majority of undisturbed ecosystems are in parts of the Amazon, Congo tropical forests, east Siberian and northern Canadian tundra and forests, as well as the Sahara.

Satellite imagery shows that apparently, 20-40% of the world’s habitats should be “untouched,” however, further research shows that vital species from these areas are actually missing.

One of these species of animal are elephants, which some scientists believe are missing from these areas due to hunting and poaching.

Natural ecosystems are believed to be quite fragile, human interferences can cause disastrous effects as if one species of animal becomes extinct, there may be a domino effect on the whole ecosystem.

For example, if the apex predator is hunted out of extinction, the ecosystem would see a boom in the population of whatever animals were hunted by the said predator, this boom may have adverse consequences.

So, some researchers say that it is essential to bring these ecosystems back to their previous, intact, states.

Scientists say that it may be possible to bring the intactness of ecosystems back to 20% by reintroducing species of the animal back into the habitats.

However, it may be impossible for these scientists to achieve such goals as developing nations, such as Brazil, may disagree with these policies.

This is because the Brazilian government has made explicitly clear their willingness to exploit the natural resources of the Amazon.

The Amazon rainforest is seeing large scale destruction of habits, a lot more chaotic than mere human contact, the main reason for this deforestation is cattle farming.

This is because beef is in large demand, especially due to the western palette favouring it over other types of meat.

So, the Brazilian government has decided that they should exploit the natural resources of the Amazon for its nation to satisfy these demands.

In other words, the government is prioritising economic growth over sustainability.

Because of this attractive growth, we cannot expect developing nations especially to abide by these climate policies.

This is because nations such as the UK did the same decades ago, and now that we know the consequences, developing nations are told to halt their economic growth despite them being in the same stage we were decades ago.

Because of this, some see it unfair for developed nations to enforce these policies on developing ones, so, it is likely fair for developed nations to ensure that what they are doing is for the good of the climate.

Some would argue for this to be a sort of duty of care for the planet, developed nations, who have already benefited from the exploitation of resources, should do what they can to protect them.

And this principle is reflected in modern economics, the UK’s economic objective is for growth to be stable and sustainable so that resources are protected for future generations.

The UK’s willingness to prioritise the climate is also shown with its plan to cut out the sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 as well as various other climate targets.

So, perhaps it is more fitting for developed nations to not prioritise growth as much as they are now, and instead to turn towards maximising stability and sustainability in a sort of “doughnut economics.”


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