Not Dealing With Climate Change Is Dumb, Not Dealing With Biodiversity Loss Is Even Dumber.
In watching the run up to CoP26, what has been very apparent is the pressure put on world leaders to attend. Together with the host, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the other world leaders confirmed as going include Prime Minister Mario Draghi (Italy), President Joe Biden (United States), First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Scotland), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Canada), President Emmanuel Macron (France), President Nana Akufo-Addo (Ghana), President Alberto Fernandez (Argentina), Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (Israel), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey), Prime Minister Stefan Löfven (Sweden), President Guy Parmelin (Switzerland), President Muhammadu Buhari (Nigeria), President Ivan Duque (Colombia), Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Australia).
Notable by their absence will be Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has said he will not be making the trip, and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is citing Covid-19 fears for his lack of attendance.
In addition to these political leaders, more than 30,000 people are expected to be in Glasgow, from NGOs and businesses, to journalists, lobbyists, negotiators and protesters. All there to discuss the solutions needed to halt and reverse human induced global warming, through polluting industries and carbon-intensive, consuming lifestyles. And after too many years of the media trying to give all sides of the global warming debate space to air their views, one recent article in The Guardian compared climate change deniers to the late 18th-century opponents of abolishing the slave trade.
In stark contrast is the lack of pressure, on these same world leaders, to deal with the loss of biosphere integrity, namely biodiversity loss and extinction. The May 2019 IPBES report into the global extinction crisis confirmed that direct exploitation for trade is the most important driver of decline and extinction risk for marine species and the second most important driver for terrestrial and freshwater species. Yet, I didn’t see these world leaders at CITES CoP18 or read anything in the media about the expectation that they would attend.
What makes the contrast between the public’s expectation of world leaders to deal with climate change compared to tackling the loss of biodiversity integrity even more strange is how little people understand about our dependence on biodiversity integrity for the lifestyles we crave. From a risk perspective, human civilisation is under much larger, imminent threat of exceeding the planetary boundaries for biosphere integrity and phosphate and nitrate flows than climate change.