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Losing the wilderness

«The world’s last great wildernesses are shrinking at an alarming rate. In the past two decades, 10% of the earth’s wilderness has been lost due to human pressure».

«Over the course of human history, there has been a major degradation of 52% of the earth’s ecosystems, while the remaining 48% is being increasingly eroded. Since 1992, when the United Nations signed up to the Rio convention on biological diversity, three million square kilometres of wilderness have been lost.


«[A study shows that if] this rate continues, we will have lost all wilderness within the next 50 years.»

This is of course detrimental to a range of important things, the «wilderness degradation is endangering biodiversity, as well as the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle and pollination. And […] once they have been damaged or cleared, the wildernesses are gone for good; there is no scientific evidence that degraded eco-systems could ever return to their original condition. [...] Loss of wilderness will affect the migratory species who depend on large intact wilderness areas, and the large carnivores – charismatic megafauna such as lions, who can’t live in a human landscape when their habitat disappears. »

The causes? Just the totality of modern life, I suppose. «They are being encroached on by logging, oil and gas exploration, mining, roads and agriculture. “It is death by a thousand cuts” says PhD student James Allan, who also worked on the study. “The moment you put a road in, you get people moving in to farm, hunt, and [that] undermines the wilderness. The risk is that a lot of these systems could collapse.“»

The conclusion here is that we need «strong environmental law. We need big investments from government and the private sector, otherwise we will continue on a very sad trajectory.» Although I'm not going to be a negative Nancy and say "that wouldn't work!" a priori, our present trajectory doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that strong environmental law is even in the interest of governments and corporations in the first place.

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