Human caused environmental change is occurring at an unprecedented scale and pace and threatens to erode the conditions that human civilization depends on for stability, according to a new report that calls for urgent action to protect these systems.
The new study highlights the combination of soil degradation, insect pollinator collapse, chemical leaching and ocean acidification creating a “new domain of risk,” which has been underestimated despite the threat to humanity and human civilization it poses. The paper stresses the impacts go beyond climate change leading to “economic instability, large-scale involuntary migration, conflict, famine and the potential collapse of social and economic systems.”
“A new, highly complex and destabilised ‘domain of risk’ is emerging – which includes the risk of the collapse of key social and economic systems, at local and potentially even global levels,” the paper warns. “This new risk domain affects virtually all areas of policy and politics, and it is doubtful that societies around the world are adequately prepared to manage this risk.”
The new paper “This is a Crisis: Facing up to the Age of Environmental Breakdown” is a meta-study of of academic papers, government research and NGO reports.
Floods have increased by a factor of 15 since 1950 and extreme temperature events increased by a factor of 20. Top soil is now being lost 10 to 40 times faster than natural processes can replenish it. The 20 warmest years since records began more than 150 years ago have been in the past 22 years. Vertebrate populations have fallen by an average of 60% since the 1970s, and insect numbers have declined even faster in some countries. These processes amplify existing social and economic problems, threatening systemic collapse.
Image: “black square sun hypeЯReally eclipsed through layers of social housing blocks” by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann is licensed under CC BY 2.0