July 30, 2010

The many costs of biodiversity loss

A two-year study by accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, commissioned by the UN Environment Program, (UNEP) titled “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” (TEEB) puts a price tag on the economic impact of environmentally-damaging business practices that cripple or prevent flora and fauna from providing ecosystem services.

The report brings attention to the largely ignored multibillion dollar deficits resulting from activities that cause water contamination, deforestation, fish depletion and land loss due to soil erosion and drought.

The estimated annual cost to the world economy in 2008 for such practices was between US$2 trillion and US$4.5 trillion, equating to as much as 7.5% of global income.

These findings are particularly critical today as human-caused global warming continues to trigger the rapid deterioration of global biodiversity. Dr. Heather MacKay of the international wetlands conservation agreement, the Ramsar Convention, spoke to Supreme Master Television of the gravity of the situation.

Dr. Heather MacKay, Chair of Ramsar Convention’s Scientific and Review Panel (STRP) (F): It’s really gotten to the point where it’s very serious. We are seeing now many very significant tipping points being reached in ecosystems. So we’re very worried and need to try and reverse this.

VOICE: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has named animal raising for meat and dairy production among the primary factors of biodiversity loss.
As an earlier FAO report stated, “Indeed, the livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas and facilitation of invasions by alien species.”

Dr. Heather MacKay (F): It’s true that intensive production of livestock can take up significant resources. We will all have to look at our diets, what we eat, what we consume, where we get our water. All of those things will become important. We need to work on an international level on governance, national level with policies and laws, but we will also need to actively restore large ecosystems, to restore biodiversity, to protect it.

VOICE: Thank you, Dr. MacKay, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and UNEP, for highlighting yet another aspect of the immense benefit provided by the plants and animals in our environment.

May we all quickly adopt a biodiversity-conserving plant-based diet for the sake of the global economy as well as all life on Earth. Supreme Master Ching Hai has long emphasized the vital need for conservation and protection of all fellow beings, as during a July 2008 videoconference in Formosa (Taiwan).

Supreme Master Ching Hai:: So we lost many of these precious species, we lost many of us, because they are us. And we still did not wake up yet. We should have more rules, more guidelines, to protect natural habitats.

Above all, enlightenment is really what’s needed to govern. That’s number one. And vegan diet with right motive, number two, will offer more compassion and insight, also will help preserve precious natural habitats for the wild and protect the resources for humans.


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