Vanishing wilderness: 10 percent of Nature gone in 25 years

I admit it is hard to keep your head cool when you read such news, and this despite having discovered the power of positive psychology. To a new study the world has lost ten percent of its wilderness in as little as 25 tiny years… 

To Climate Progress:

The loss recorded since 1990 is equivalent to an area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon, according to the study published Thursday in Current Biology. Most of the depletion is happening in South America, which experienced a nearly 30 percent loss, and Africa, which lost 14 percent of untouched ecosystems.

“Even though 10 percent is quite a small number in some ways, it really means that if we keep this trajectory going we will lose all wilderness in the next 50 years,” said James Watson, lead author and director of science and research initiative at the Wildlife Conservation Society, in an interview with ThinkProgress.

And the implications of this catastrophe are enormous. In terms of biodiversity losses, in terms of greenhouse gases emissions and climate change, but also in terms of Human development. We Humans just need Nature, not the other way around… Remember, George Carlin was totally right on  that one…

In the Huffington Post, the leading author of this study, James Watson, associate professor fellow at Australia’s University of Queensland, staded that this calls for a strong change in conservation policies:

Around the world, conservationists are desperately fighting the biodiversity crisis, zeroing in on species whose populations are nearing extinction and trying to restore and protect already threatened habitats. In the process, Watson said, humans have forgotten about the “crown jewel” ? those few wilderness areas that still remain intact.

Protecting these areas is “essential,” Watson said. “And yet it’s just being ignored.”

Watson likened current conservation efforts to a doctor racing to a funeral home to try to save a patient, instead of people being taught at a young age the risks of eating unhealthy food.

“From a conservation point, maybe we should stop people from chopping down trees in the first place,” he said. “That’s the strategy, as opposed to trying to save the last 15 individuals of a species. It’s costly, way too late.”

Watson says it’s time to ask the question: What does nature need? Does it need us to protect imperiled species, or safeguard the last intact places? The answer, he says, is not one or the other.

“We conflate it all, and get into these wee intellectual battles,” he said. “What’s more important? They’re both important. Nature needs both.”

Let us hope we can turn around this other most important issue. Deforestation has to be addressed before the worse happens. What we witness already on climate change is scary enough…

Image credits: Flickr, Oregon State University

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