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15 May 2012

Praise: 2012 Living Planet Report

The World Wildlife Fund has been working for half a century to keep our planet healthy for us.  I last mentioned them regarding Earth Hour.  Their 2012 Living Planet Report is disheartening, but important information.  The summation of chapter one says a lot:

2012 Living Planet Report, page 12.
The ongoing loss of biodiversity is frightening.  We don't know how much more loss can be sustained without a collapse to the system ... a collapse that could include our species.  As we continue to grow our population far beyond the numbers where we don't harm our environment, something is going to give.  Some of that is seen in loss of species and diminished fresh water supplies.

The report is not all doom and gloom.  Chapter four includes sixteen points for sustaining our world.
  1. Significantly expand the global protected areas network
    • Protect 20 per cent of representative land, freshwater and
    marine areas, including areas key for ecological processes
    necessary for biodiversity, food, water and energy security,
    and climate change resilience and adaptation.
    • Implement adequate funding mechanisms for effective
    protected area management.
  2. Halt loss of priority habitats
    • Achieve Zero Net Deforestation and Degradation by 2020 and
    maintain thereafter.
    • Halt fragmentation of freshwater systems.
    • Increase the area of effectively managed marine protected areas
    from 5 per cent to at least 20 per cent.
  3. Restore damaged ecosystems and ecosystem services
    • Prioritize restoration of ecosystems and ecosystem services
    necessary for food, water and energy security, and climate
    change resilience and adaptation.
  4. Significantly reduce inputs and waste in production systems
    • Increase total food supply-chain efficiency.
    • Maximize energy, water and material efficiency.
    • Maximize recycling and recovery.
    • Minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
  5. Manage resources sustainably
    • Eliminate overfishing by commercial fleets, including the
    indiscriminate capture of non-target organisms.
    • Eliminate water over-abstraction.
    • Implement policies to secure water quality.
    • Minimize further habitat conversion through maximizing
    the sustainable use of productive land by improving
    genetic selection, adopting best practices, increasing
    efficiency, improving soil organic matter and rehabilitating
    degraded lands.
  6. Scale-up renewable energy production
    • Increase the proportion of sustainable renewable energies in
    the global energy mix to at least 40 per cent by 2030 and 100
    per cent by 2050.
    • Increase the share of renewable energy in the overall energy
    mix, along with ambitious energy demand management,
    especially in sectors with limited renewable options that are
    likely to be dependent on bioenergy. (Aviation, shipping and
    high heat industrial applications are likely to be among these.)
  7. Change energy consumption patterns
    • Decrease energy demand by 15 per cent by 2050 compared
    to 2005.
    • Increase the proportion of electricity produced using
    renewable energy to cover all global energy needs by 2050.
    • Provide sustainable energy to everyone in “off-grid” areas.
  8. Promote healthy consumption patterns
    • Balance protein intake per capita as recommended by the
    World Health Organization (WHO).
    • Minimize retailer and consumer food waste in high- and
    middle-income countries.
  9. Achieve low-footprint lifestyles
    • Minimize resource consumption and waste by high income
    • Maximize market share of certified sustainable products.
    • Transition urban areas to “smart” cities with low-footprint
    solutions for meeting urban housing, food, water, energy, and
    mobility needs.
  10. Value nature
    • Implement an inclusive and globally accepted system
    for measuring the economic and non-economic value of
    natural capital.
    • Fully integrate this value into mainstream economic
    development policy and decision-making.
  11. Account for environmental and social costs
    • Integrate social and environmental costs of production and
    consumption over long timeframes into standard national
    and corporate accounting and reporting methodologies.
    • Ensure that social and environmental costs are reflected in
    the market price of all commodities and products, and in
    environmental impact assessments.
  12. Support and reward conservation, sustainable resource management and innovation
    • Eliminate all subsidies that undermine sustainable resource
    use and conservation, particularly those underpinning fossil
    fuel use and unsustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
    • Develop/implement new financial mechanisms that redirect
    public and private investment to support sustainable practices
    and new technologies for sustainability, and provide new
    additional financing for conservation and restoration of
    natural capital.
    • Improve policy for increased investments and large-scale
    deployment of innovations and new technologies that
    can enable sustainable development in both public and
    private spheres.
  13. Share available resources
    • Implement natural resource governance built on inclusive
    processes and broad participation by communities dependent
    on natural resources.
    • Minimize the footprint of high-income populations and urban
    areas (see “Consume more wisely”).
    • Promote the transition toward sustainable, resource-efficient
    cities and reduce the direct impact of cities on water and land
    by limiting urban sprawl, promoting urban agriculture and
    sustainable waste (water) management.
  14. Make fair and ecologically informed choices
    • Implement policies and tools for analysing, resolving and
    managing competing land use and water use claims.
  15. Measure success “beyond GDP”
    • Include social and environmental indices in national indicators
    to measure and reward success.
    • Implement economic policies with targets and indicators to
    monitor the impact of economic governance on natural capital
    and human well-being.
  16. Sustainable population
    • Explicitly integrate population dynamics (size, growth
    rate, composition, location and migration) and per capita
    consumption trends into national planning policies to support a
    better balance between population and available resources.
    • Ensure universal access to gender-sensitive reproductive health
    services and information, reduce child mortality and support
    the empowerment of women and young girls through greater
    access to higher education and employment opportunities.
Most of this is common sense.  A few points are political triggers (#13 smacks of socialism, #15 smacks of anti-capitalism, and #16 will grate against religious fundamentalists who think that there are not enough humans ever).  Still more is based on science that some will be eager to deny.  Nonetheless, this report needs to be taken seriously.  We don't have a control group for the experiment we are running with our ecosystem.

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