IPPR Report Warns of Deadly Combination of Environmental Crises
Mar 22 2019 Read 563 Times
A new report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has suggested that the combined effect of several distinct environmental crises could be being hugely underestimated by lawmakers and politicians. The left-leaning thinktank said that climate change, deforestation, acidification of the oceans, topsoil erosion and mass loss of animal species could create a perfect storm for humans all over the world.
In the paper, the authors called for a tripartite movement in governmental understanding and policy-making. Firstly, they want politicians all over the globe to fully grasp the scale and enormity of environmental issues. Secondly, they urge the authorities to understand how those issues will affect human societies. And finally, they call for immediate and comprehensive policy changes to remedy the situation.
While the IPPR does concede that climate change has infiltrated the mainstream consciousness – with the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events an increased study of discussion and scientific research – there are many other burning issues which are not given the column inches or political consideration they deserve.
For example, the report draws attention to deforestation and the degradation of the Earth’s soil. In the last half century, almost a third of the arable land in the world has fallen prey to soil erosion, while as much as 95% of it could become degraded by 2050. Indeed, the fact that topsoil is being eroded as much as 40 times more quickly than it is being replenished adds substance to those fears.
The UK a microcosm of concern
Based in London, the IPPR has unsurprisingly focused on the UK’s position in part of its report. However, far from being lenient in its appraisal of British environmentalism, it calls the UK “one of the most nature-depleted countries” on the planet. To support that claim, it highlights the fact that the numbers of threatened species in the country have fallen by an average of two-thirds in the last 50 years.
It also points out that over two million tonnes of UK soil are eroded every year and that almost a fifth (17%) of arable land in the country shows signs of degradation. Homing in on East Anglia, the report states that almost 85% of peat topsoil in the region has been destroyed since 1850, with the remaining 15% not expected to see out the end of this century and could in fact be completely depleted by 2050.
What can be done?
The overarching message of the report appears to be that we are all in this together and that preventing the most grave consequences of the aforementioned environmental crises will entail a collective effort on the part of individuals, corporations and governments. The bulk of the responsibility must lie with this last group, however, since they have the political power and legislative freedom to turn ambitions into actions.
One geography professor from Durham University said that the report showed sufficient evidence to provoke imminent change, but seemed doubtful as to whether it would actually materialise. “We know lots of good things to do, but often the argument is made that we need to have 'evidence-based policy',” explained Harriet Bulkeley. “This can, of course, be used as an excuse for delay. So, I guess the question is how much more evidence is needed for action?”
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