Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The News Is Not Good

By David Salt

This year’s global update on the state of biodiversity tells us that the world has failed to meet all of the international targets set in 2002. But is news bad enough for any country to do anything about it?

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

“The news is not good,” says the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity in a press release announcing the findings of the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3).

“We continue to lose biodiversity at a rate never before seen in history – extinction rates may be up to 1,000 times higher than the historical background rate.

“The assessment of the state of the world’s biodiversity in 2010, as contained in GBO-3 based on the latest indicators, over 110 national reports submitted to the Convention Secretariat, and scenarios for the 21st Century should serve as a wake-up call for humanity. Business-as-usual is no longer an option if we are to avoid irreversible damage to the life-support systems of our planet.”

Well, that definitely doesn’t sound like good news, especially in the International Year of Biodiversity – the year in which countries that signed up to the Convention of Biological Diversity (including Australia) were supposed to demonstrate “a significant reduction of the current rate [in 2002] of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level”. But rather than a reduction, the GBO-3 notes that extinction rates are increasing.

• Species that have been assessed for extinction risk are on average moving closer to extinction.

• Natural habitats in most parts of the world continue to...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

David Salt is Knowledge Broker for the Applied Environmental Decision Analysis centre at the Australian National University.