Call Hercules! Species under threat

May 19, 2008

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel appears on a large screen as he opens a session of the 9th UN convention on biological diversity COP 9 in Bonn May 19, 2008. The UN is holding the conference in Germany’s former capital Bonn from May 19 to 30, to develop strategies to ensure the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY)Delegates from almost 200 countries are meeting in Bonn, Germany,  to discuss ways to protect animals and plants from threats ranging from climate change to pollution. 

Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s environment minister, said it would be a “Herculean task” to safeguard animal and plant life. Try my colleague Madeline Chambers’ fine story about the opening.

But what can they do at the May 19-30 meeting?

An Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 set a goal of slowing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, but U.N. studies say that climate change, rising human populations and loss of habitats are causing the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago. A museum visitor examines a statue of “Young Hercules” during a preview of the new Greek and Roman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York April 16, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES)That means that most experts say the 2010 goal is out of reach.

The conference will discuss ideas like expanding protected areas for wildlife, giving local peoples a bigger share of the cash if pharmaceutical companies develop a new drug with a plant on their land. Are these enough?

Any ideas to help, especially if Hercules doesn’t show up?


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Why is anyone assuming that these actions would help if implemented?

Posted by J. Michael Morris | Report as abusive

“UN studies claiming that climate change, rising human populations and loss of habitats are causing the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago.”

Pardon my skepticism, but this sounds a little far-fetched. I’d like to see a direct link to these claims and their methods for comparison.

Posted by AEGeneral | Report as abusive

i like the scepticism (journalists are paid to be sceptical too)…here is a link to the U.N.’s “Global Biodiversity Outlook 2″ published in March 2006 by the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity. You can download the whole report for free. pdf

Page 10 says:
“The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, completed in
2005 by more than 1360 scientists working in 95 countries, found that changes in biodiversity due to human activities were occurring more rapidly in the past 50 years than at any time in human history, and that the
direct causes (or drivers) of this loss are either remaining steady, showing no evidence of decline over time, or are increasing in intensity over time. In effect, we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of the Earth, and the greatest since the dinosaurs disappeared, 65 million years ago.”

You could also try the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment itself: ndex.aspx

Posted by Alister Doyle | Report as abusive