According to a United Nations body, "current patterns of consumption, production and inequality are not sustainable."
The United Nations (UN) gave a clear and forceful alert: the planet is heading towards climate, health and social collapse. But he also highlighted the solution (which is still possible): reduce greenhouse gas emissions (which cause climate change), reduce consumption levels, protect water and biodiversity (among others). These are some of the conclusions he published in his report "World Environment Outlook". In various sections, the UN warns that, if drastic and urgent changes do not occur, there will be devastating consequences. “We are causing climate change and loss of biodiversity. There will be no tomorrow for many people, unless we stop, ”said Joyce Msuya, Executive Director of UN Environment.
The United Nations Environment Assembly is the largest international space on the subject. It met last March in Kenya and there was presented the research "World Environment Outlook 6", a photo of the climate: nine million people die every year from air and water pollution; since 1970 40 percent of wetlands have disappeared and the world population of vertebrates has been reduced by 60 percent.
Since 1880 the world temperature has risen between 0.8 and 1.2 degrees Celsius. And, in the last decade, there were eight of the ten warmest years in history. It warns that the temperature of the Arctic will rise between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius by 2050, a situation that will “devastate” the region and raise the level of the oceans around the world. Land in danger of degradation comprises 29 percent of the world's land, home to 3.2 billion people.
One of the slogans of the 745-page report is "healthy planet, healthy people." Specifies that 2.3 billion people (one in three inhabitants of the world) do not have access to adequate sanitation services. Each year 1.4 million people die from preventable diseases (such as diarrhea) associated with contaminated drinking water.
In the conclusions, the UN is concrete: "Anthropogenic (human) activities have degraded the Earth's ecosystems and undermined the ecological foundations of society." It clarifies that it is necessary "to adopt urgent measures on an unprecedented scale to stop and reverse this situation and thus protect human and environmental health." Some of the essential measures are to reduce land degradation, biodiversity loss, and air, land and water pollution; improve water management, mitigate climate change and reduce the burning of fossil fuels.
Climate change is the product of the increase in temperature due to human action and implies drastic changes in the environment (floods, droughts, melting glaciers). The main cause is the emission of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2). The burning of fossil fuels (gas, oil, coal) is among the main causes. The UN report focuses on climate change, but does not point to those responsible. It is that the great economic powers are the main culprits: 76 percent of emissions come from the G20 countries, led by China, the United States, the European Union, India, Russia, Japan and Germany.
The report recalls that climate change has direct and profound effects on the economy and society, "it endangers livelihoods, exacerbates poverty, migration and particularly affects populations in vulnerable situations."
A criticism from the left that is often made of the UN diplomatic circles is that it does not emphasize the economic causes of the environmental disaster. In the report he takes a step: "The current patterns of consumption, production and inequality are not sustainable." In various sections, it mentions consumption levels, especially in developed countries. Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, sums it up another way: "The problem is not climate change, but capitalism."
A common argument of agribusiness companies (GMOs and pesticides) is that more food is needed for the growing population. La Via Campesina (international movement of small producers and indigenous people) has refuted this for decades: the problem is not the lack of food, but its unfair distribution. The United Nations contributes an element in that sense: 33 percent of the world's food is lost or wasted. And 56 percent of those losses happen in developed countries.
That same week the UN presented the report "Overview of global resources." Without mentioning it, it points to the role of extractivism. "The rapid increase in extraction of materials is the main culprit for climate change and biodiversity loss, a problem that will only get worse unless the world urgently undertakes systemic reform of resource use." It specifies that the extraction of natural resources tripled from 1970 to the present and the use of fossil fuels increased 45 percent. It warns that, if it stays the same, by 2060 greenhouse gas emissions could increase 43 percent. "Frankly, there will be no tomorrow for many people unless we stop," warned Joyce Msuya, executive director of UN Environment.
By Dario Aranda