Dire UN climate change report
Earth is sick with multiple and worsening environmental ills killing millions of people yearly, a new U.N. report says.
Climate change, a global major extinction of animals and plants, a human population soaring toward 10 billion, degraded land, polluted air, and plastics, pesticides and hormone-changing chemicals in the water are making the planet an increasing unhealthy place for people, says the scientific report issued once every few years.
The sixth Global Environment Outlook, released Wednesday at a U.N. conference in Nairobi, Kenya, concludes “unsustainable human activities globally have degraded the Earth’s ecosystems, endangering the ecological foundations of society.”
But the same document says changes in the way the world eats, buys things, gets its energy and handles its waste could help fix the problems.
The report details climate change impacts on human health, air, water, land and biodiversity. Almost all coastal cities and small island nations are increasingly vulnerable to flooding from rising seas and extreme weather.
A major species extinction event, compromising planetary integrity and Earth’s capacity to meet human needs, is unfolding,” the report says, listing threats to ecosystems, fisheries and other major systems. It notes conservationists are divided on whether Earth is in a sixth mass extinction.
People getting sick from diseases caused by antimicrobial resistant bacteria in water supplies could become a major cause of death worldwide by 2050, unless something can be done about it, the report says.
Land is getting less fertile and useful. The report says degradation “hot spots,” where it’s difficult to grow crops, now cover 29 percent of all land areas. The rate of deforestation has slowed but continues.