Planet’s “health” has declined since first Rio Earth Summit

By RTCC staff

The world’s ecological health has continued to decline since the last Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, according to a new study.

The Living Planet Index measures the health of 2600 species in more than 9000 individual populations, to assess the state of the planet’s ability to support rich biodiversity.

The Planet's overall health is thought to have declined since the first Rio Earth Summit. (Source: NASA)

The research by the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, found that biodiversity suffered more in low income countries, highlighting the link between the environment and development.

The Rio+20 conference scheduled for June 20-22 this year will focus on building a framework to catalyse sustainable development.

“This report is like a planetary check-up and the results indicate we have a very sick planet,” said Jonathan Baillie, conservation programme director with the Zoological Society of London.

“Ignoring this diagnosis will have major implications for humanity. We can restore the planet’s health, but only through addressing the root causes, population growth and over-consumption of resources.”

Ticking clock

Many of the problems, including resource scarcity, faced by world leaders at the original Rio Summit in 1992 remain familiar, the time available to tackle them continues to slip away.

“With every day of inaction, we limit the choices for future generations,” said David Nussbaum, CEO, WWF-UK.

“If we keep running down the stock of natural capital, we’ll hand them a world less able to sustain life and absorb environmental shocks.

“Since the original Earth Summit, we’ve taken some steps forward, but the pace is glacial. So Rio+20 needs to elevate the urgency of action on the scale needed: now is our chance to reflect whether the future we’re creating for our planet is the legacy we want to leave for future generations,” he added.

The Living Planet Index report was launched on-board the International Space Station by WWF Ambassador, and astronaut, André Kuipers.

“We only have one Earth. From up here I can see humanity’s footprint, including forest fires, air pollution and erosion – challenges which are reflected in this edition of the Living Planet Report,” said Kuipers.

“While there are unsustainable pressures on the planet, we have the ability to save our home, not only for our benefit, but for generations to come.”

Read more on: Nature | | | | |