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Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

Posted on 7 May 2019 by Guest Author

This is a media release from ipbes

Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary, meeting last week (29 April – 4 May) in Paris.

“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

“The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” he said. “Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

“The member States of IPBES Plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good,” Watson said.

The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive ever completed. It is the first intergovernmental Report of its kind and builds on the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, introducing innovative ways of evaluating evidence.

Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the Report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature. It also offers a range of possible scenarios for the coming decades.

Based on the systematic review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources, the Report also draws (for the first time ever at this scale) on indigenous and local knowledge, particularly addressing issues relevant to Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’. But our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point,” said Prof. Sandra Díaz (Argentina), who co-chaired the Assessment with Prof. Josef Settele (Germany) and Prof. Eduardo S. Brondízio (Brazil and USA). “The diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems, as well as many fundamental contributions we derive from nature, are declining fast, although we still have the means to ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet.”

The Report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.

The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reefforming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

“Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Prof. Settele. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

To increase the policy-relevance of the Report, the assessment’s authors have ranked, for the first time at this scale and based on a thorough analysis of the available evidence, the five direct drivers of change in nature with the largest relative global impacts so far. These culprits are, in descending order: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species.

The Report notes that, since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius – with climate change already impacting nature from the level of ecosystems to that of genetics – impacts expected to increase over the coming decades, in some cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and other drivers.

Despite progress to conserve nature and implement policies, the Report also finds that global goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors. With good progress on components of only four of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, it is likely that most will be missed by the 2020 deadline. Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems will undermine progress towards 80% (35 out of 44) of the assessed targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, related to poverty, hunger, health, water, cities, climate, oceans and land (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6, 11, 13, 14 and 15). Loss of biodiversity is therefore shown to be not only an environmental issue, but also a developmental, economic, security, social and moral issue as well.

“To better understand and, more importantly, to address the main causes of damage to biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people, we need to understand the history and global interconnection of complex demographic and economic indirect drivers of change, as well as the social values that underpin them,” said Prof. Brondízio. “Key indirect drivers include increased population and per capita consumption; technological innovation, which in some cases has lowered and in other cases increased the damage to nature; and, critically, issues of governance and accountability. A pattern that emerges is one of global interconnectivity and ‘telecoupling’ – with resource extraction and production often occurring in one part of the world to satisfy the needs of distant consumers in other regions.”

Other notable findings of the Report include[1]:

  • Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. On average these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.
  • More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.
  • The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300% since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45% and approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and nonrenewable resources are now extracted globally every year – having nearly doubled since 1980.
  • Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of the global land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.
  • In 2015, 33% of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% were maximally sustainably fished, with just 7% harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished.
  • Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.
  • Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones’, totalling more than 245,000 km2 (591-595) - a combined area greater than that of the United Kingdom.
  • Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the Report, except those that include transformative change – due to the projected impacts of increasing land-use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change, although with significant differences between regions.

The Report also presents a wide range of illustrative actions for sustainability and pathways for achieving them across and between sectors such as agriculture, forestry, marine systems, freshwater systems, urban areas, energy, finance and many others. It highlights the importance of, among others, adopting integrated management and cross-sectoral approaches that take into account the trade-offs of food and energy production, infrastructure, freshwater and coastal management, and biodiversity conservation.

Also identified as a key element of more sustainable future policies is the evolution of global financial and economic systems to build a global sustainable economy, steering away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth.

“IPBES presents the authoritative science, knowledge and the policy options to decisionmakers for their consideration,” said IPBES Executive Secretary, Dr. Anne Larigauderie. “We thank the hundreds of experts, from around the world, who have volunteered their time and knowledge to help address the loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity – a truly global and generational threat to human well-being.”


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Comments 1 to 21:

  1. Environmental degradation and species decline is deadly serious, and is caused by high consuming culture and population growth, but this is a dilemma because people are unlikely to willingly embrace some hair shirt lifestyle, and to revert to horses and carts, and poor people must have a chance to improve their circumstances, and most of us want decent healthcare. The best we can work towards is asteady state economy, less waste, renewable energy and smaller population. So harm minimisation.

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  2. As it should, the release of the IPBES report has generated mucho news articles throughout the world. Here are the ones I have posted links to on the SkS Facebook page as of this comment. I wll post more links to similar articles laer today and in the days to come.

    Civilization Is Accelerating Extinction and Altering the Natural World at a Pace ‘Unprecedented in Human History’ by Brad Plumer, Climate, New York Times, May 6, 2019

    One million species threatened with extinction because of humans by Isabelle Gerretsen, CNN, May 6, 2019

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  3. See this is exactly why I have a big problem with nigelj's comments, and he makes tons of them here and elswhere. His message is always "we can never do enough to reverse the collapse of the biosphere so lets just do a bunch of feel good stuff and call that the best we can do.

    He premissis it with some strawman comment like " shirt lifestyle, and to revert to horses and carts...". Nobody is saying that.

    We can do 80% and all live a decent lifestyle, just no second or third house and trips around the world. My son and his friends, mid 20s, life a great life in portland oregon and have a carbon footprint one tenth of the average.

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  4. Jef @3

    "See this is exactly why I have a big problem with nigelj's comments, and he makes tons of them here and elswhere. His message is always "we can never do enough to reverse the collapse of the biosphere so lets just do a bunch of feel good stuff and call that the best we can do."

    In what way specifically is a steady state economy, (zero growth) wasting less, renewable energy and smaller global popultion "a bunch of feel good stuff" ? 

    "He premissis it with some strawman comment like " shirt lifestyle, and to revert to horses and carts...". Nobody is saying that"

    Actually some people have promoted this, claiming it's inevitable. Some people already live like this such as the Amish. Other people claim we should abandon urban living and the capitalist system entirely.

    I'm simply making the point a bit graphically that its unlikely people will give up on things like cars, and all the technology we generally take for granted, or go without adequate home heating, or abandon the capitalist system, so we are in a challenging position of striking a balance and just being realistic on whats possible and making things work more sustainably within this.

    "We can do 80% and all live a decent lifestyle, just no second or third house and trips around the world. My son and his friends, mid 20s, life a great life in portland oregon and have a carbon footprint one tenth of the average."

    Agreed. I have argued exactly the same sort of thing even on this website and elsewhere.  In addition I have argued most people could viably reduce their consumption of resources by 25%, and that we don't need such large houses as have become commonplace in suburbia. 

    I did a quick google search of my own comments on this website as examples.

    So I don't really understand where you are coming from. I think you obviously haven't read things fully.  

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  5. nigelj,

    I do not agree with a Zero-Growth economy. There is no reason to expect that humans will be unable to continue to develop truly sustainable better ways to live. Sustainable Development does not mean No More Improvements.

    As noted in the report, technological innovations have been helpful and harmful. Improved awareness and understanding an be expected to allow more improved ways of living to be developed, and shut down unsustainable harmful activity before it becomes too popular or profitable to be easily corrected.

    What is required is the development of institutions that will rigorously ensure that only the sustainable helpful innovations are allowed to compete for popularity and profit.

    Those improved institutions will also need to effectively correct the many harmful unsustainable things that have unfortunately already developed popularity and profitability. And that is where the resistance to correction by undeserving winners in the status-quo will fight hardest. But the correction of what has developed is the most important required step. Relying on technical innovation to produce all the required corrections is a Fool's Game.

    Humanity currently has the ability to reduce over-consumption, waste, and pollution. Many of the corrections are as simple as ending unnecessary things like powered recreation impacts and over-air-conditioning, over-heating, over-powered vehicles. And those corrections can be done while maintaining and improving the assistance to the poorest.

    All that will be needed is the corrections of attitudes of those who want to be good helpful people but have been misguided. Enough good helpful people will also result in the minority who remain in 'the resistance to helpful correction' being effectively governed and limited, much to their disappointment.

    A very important aspect of the new and improved institutions will be rooting out the 'status-quo resistance to the required corrections'. Those institutions will need to develop effective mechanisms for governing and limiting marketing, particularly political marketing, to be helpful efforts to improve awareness and understanding in the general population. No more slick emotionally appealing misleading marketing drumming up unjustified support for the resistance to the required corrections.

    The correction resistant will probably declare such 'marketing governing institutions' as 'tyrannical oppression of freedom' (like they now cry about the worst of their heroes not being allowed on social media platforms). But their disappointment is deserved and deserves to be ignored. Freedom that is not governed by Altruism can be very harmful to Others. Their developed harmful Egoist desires cannot be allowed to compromise what needs to be done. Many other aspects of marketing are understood to need to be governed and limited externally to keep them from being harmful. Political marketing clearly needs to be included in the 'altruistically governed and limited activities'.

    A lot of harmful older people, and those younger people hoping to win like those harmful older people did, will be rattled by the changes. But the need for more rapid and more significant correction really is mainly their fault. The bigger problem with less time to correct is the result of their harmful resistance to correction. So there is no need for sympathy regarding their inability to understand why they deserve to be so disappointed (much of it is due to made-up misleading political marketing).

    The poor, on the other hand, need to continue to be helped sustainably, meaning even more disappointment for many of the harmful people who perceive themselves to be richer, or potentially richer, than they deserve to be.

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  6. OPOF @5, I think a zero growth economy is absolutely inevitable sooner or later, and I'm not alone. There is a huge literature and this is thought provoking.

    It's very hard to see how we can keep on increasing rates of output of industrial goods every year on a finite planet. There is also a case to deliberately embrace zero growth to conserve resources for the future. Japan has had close to zero growth for years and it hasn't hurt them.

    Having said that, there could be growth in the services sector as this is separate from the planets resource base. Recycling can also prolong some level of growth but this has limits. And I believe the earth has enough resources for everyone to lead a comfortable life, assuming we get population growth down and minority groups are not permitted to monopolise resources too much. And obviously third world countries are entitled to growing their economies.

    And your other points make sense, but are not specifically related to gdp growth as such.

    I was really pointing out to Dan that I don't believe we can continue business as usual rates of resource use and have never suggested we can, just that we have to be realistic about what is possible in terms of expecting people to adjust their lifestyles.

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  7. As long as mankind continues to overpopulate the world and adhores money and greed, nature will further go down at an ever increasing speed. There seems to be no escape from disaster because  the artificial system today survives on the wrong principles.

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  8. I read about population growth in many climate discussion. The discussion always seems to be a bit misplaced for me. The population growth issue seems to be more an issue of poverty and justice for the poor, than a direct environmental issue.

    1. Consumption (with wrong technic) drives emissions not pure population.

    2. Where there is population growth, the consumption is low.

    3. Globally the population is basically growing because of inertia. People are getting older, but the number of children is probably not growing.

    4. In order to keep this stable population development the best practices are fighting extreme poverty (this does not need lot of emissions) and strength the role of women.

    See e. g. and some of the information there.

    One caveat. The bigger population can become an environmental issue in case of the old model of growth adapted from the industrialized and newly industrialized countries.

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  9. nigelj @6,

    Thank you for clarifying that you are referring to humanity eventually getting to a point, possibly soon, where Zero-Growth of 'Quantity of Consumption and related Harm and Waste (QCHW)' is required.

    I do not agree with the thought that humanity will eventually need to limit what is developed to a Zero-Growth economy.

    And I substantially agree with the understanding presented by Mentor @7. However, I am more of an optimist.

    As a proponent of Sustainable Development, I refer to Growth of 'Quality of Helpful Life Circumstances (QHLC)' which is a completely different thing (even though both are Growth and the acronyms look similar - and these are just my acronyms in this comment, they are not public domain acronyms).

    It should be common sense that QCHW and QHLC are very different matters. Improving QHLC (IQHLC), particularly for the poorest everywhere, is a worthy objective of Sustainable Development. And everyone should be aspiring to be as Helpful as they can be in that regard, which entails honouring the correlated objective of 'Do No Harm'.
    It is then common sense that 'Reduction of QCHW (RQCHW)' is the related objective. RQCHW can be used along with IQHLC to measure the merit of allowing an innovation to compete for popularity and profit. An initial screening to determine the acceptability of a new activity in competition for profit and popularity should not be the end of IQHLC and RQCHW efforts. Constant monitoring and investigation of the impacts of what has been allowed to compete will be needed to enable early detection and correction as required by improving awareness and understanding.

    The competitions for popularity and profit, magnified by marketing, have now been conclusively proven to need careful monitoring and external correction of what can develop (no matter what Neo-Liberals claim).

    QCHW and QHLC are incorrectly connected by many people. They incorrectly perceive IQCHW as the measure of QHLC. And to do that they develop a preference for ignoring the HW parts. Even you have commented that many people perceive their QHLC as directly proportional to their QCHW. And those people also do not consider how harmful and unsustainable their developed perceptions, desires and preferences are.

    The lack of awareness and its related misunderstanding is powered by 'allowing misleading marketing' rather than requiring any promotion to be a presentation of a fuller awareness and understanding (like the weak, but improving, requirements imposed on pharmaceutical marketing), or limiting marketing (as is done regarding tobacco and alcohol).

    Current developed institutions in many supposedly more advanced and advancing nations incorrectly promote the misunderstanding about QCW and QLC (the applicable concepts of H are dropped because including them would lead to ethical considerations which would be contrary to their unethical interests). The result is an Over-Growth of powerful harmful misunderstanding among the population that is hard to correct.

    That Over-Growth of misunderstanding and the related Over-Growth of QCHW have already occurred. There is no 'increased room for Growth of consumption'. Humanity's total impacts are already far past levels of Consumption that would be Sustainable, especially if the objective is to ensure that every human, now and far into the future, enjoys at least a basic decent life.

    Humanity has developed many harmful activities with accumulating impacts. Population growth is part of the problem. But the highest consuming and impacting portions of the population are by far the major problem to be corrected.

    So it is common sense that Sustainable Development requires significant UN-development and a related correction of incorrectly developed perceptions of status and prosperity.

    There is no doubt that a significant portion of the developed population will 'not like that change and correction'. But they also have no Good Helpful Reason for attempting to maintain their incorrectly acquired perceptions of status and prosperity (their status-quo).

    That portion of the population can be seen to have been continuing to harmfully pursue their interests, contrary to developing sustainable improvements for humanity, in spite of the improved awareness and understanding that was established at the end of WWII. The IPCC and IPBES identified needs for correction are just two of the many identified required corrections of what has been developing. The 1972 Stockholm Conference established international awareness of the unacceptability of many things that competition for power, profit and popularity (status) had been developing.

    The unethical backlashes by Neo-Liberal Economic Fundamentalists and their Uniting with Social Fundamentalists is an expected 'anti-correction' result of that constantly improving of awareness and understanding. Their interests and pursuits are undeniably unsustainable and harmful to the improvement of the future for humanity. That improved awareness and understanding needs to Grow to the point where there are enough Altruistically motivated helpful people to effectively govern and limit the actions of the minority that Egoistically prefers not to be helpful, prefers to be harmful.

    There are No Good People opposed to Achieving, and Improving on, the Sustainable Development Goals. And once the harmful correction resistant people have their influence significantly limited, humanity will be able to more rapidly continuously IQHLC. And there maybe no upper limit on IQHLC. The only limits are due to the QCHW by the less ethical, less responsible, less deserving than the Status they have in the Status-Quo.

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  10. libertador @8,

    My attention to Sustainable Development has led me to be curious about, and investigate, 'population' concerns.

    In addition to the points you have picked-up on and presented, another factor pushing population growth is the lack of socioeconomic safety nets to ensure that everyone lives at least a basic decent life.

    Systems without decent public social safety-nets, particularly but not exclusively for the elderly, develop pressure to have lots of children as a safety-net. And conditions leading to early death of children and young adults can increase that unhelpful pressure to have more children.

    Of course, anti-abortion sentiments are also a problem, especially if they lead governments to harmfully refuse to support international assistance efforts that would include abortion as a potential method of best helping a woman in a developing nation.

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  11. nigelj @6,

    A briefer comment would have been that GDP is clearly an irrelevant measure of progress. But that would have been wide open to interpretation.

    My longer comment was a more general preentation that would lead to the understanding that achieving and improving on the Sustainable Development Goals is what matters, and helpfulness towards that objective needs to be the measure of value and success. And there is no upper limit to that value and success.

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  12. Libertador @8

    I think you are basically right, more or less. Hunter gatheres lived more or less sustainably. People used to live (and many still do) very simply and primitively on farms, without modern technology, transport, and industry, and farmed organically all with negligible environmental impacts. I believe 10 billion could live that way on farms with no or minimal negative environmental impact, in theory.

    Once humanity developed industry and technology that is when environmental impacts increase inexorably. In fact its inevitable we will eventually completely run out of some resources. Even the invention of farming set in motion a sequence of events leading to high consumption and the industrial revolution.

    But the key thing is it just doesn't seem realstic that humanity will willingly revert to a very primitive farming culture. At the very least we want some technology. We can mitigate all these environmental impact problems by trying to reduce our use of technology, energy and materials,but I think there are limits on how much people will do, so most of the solution is going to have to come from smaller global population using the mechanisms you and others describe with family planning better access to contraception, better woments rights and social security. This is why I promote it constantly as an urgent priority. It will also help the climate problem longer term. But ideally the climate problem will be solved by then with wide adoption of renewable energy. But if it isnt smaller global population will help.

    And please note I'm saying smaller population not just slowing growth rates.

    If the world adopted a fertility rate of 1.5 this decade population would fall to around 6 billion by 2100 and 2 billion by 2300 according to simple population calculators. Do we really need 10 billion people, or 5 billion?

    Some countries are already at a fertility rate of 1.5. Of course the problem is the bulge of dependent elderly people, so we have to find ways to mitigate this and population cannot be allowed to fall too fast. So the solution to environmental disaster is going to have to be a combination of smaller population and reducing waste, and less use of resources, and zero economic growth in terms of industrial production.

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  13. And while some minerals are scarce, this article is based on proper research and suggests to me we have more than enough mineral resources for renewable energy infrastructure, (imho provided population growth slows and ultimately falls and we don't over consume). Reality is a complex thing.

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  14. We need to rewild as suggested by George Monbiot in his TED talk on the wolves of Yellowstone and the whales of the world's oceans but are we going to only be ambitious enough to rewild to the level of what Europeans saw as they reached each new continent.  Or are we going to try to rewild to the level that was present before the first people landed in a new area.  Think the huge fauna of marsupials in Australia or the animals that existed in North America before the end of the most recent glaciation.

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  15. Nigelj @ 12

    >>Do we really need 10 billion people, or 5 billion?<<

    The capitalist system - which I understand has given us in the first world a growing standard of living - DOES need a steadily increasing population, since economic growth depends on it.

    It's very much a matter of opinion as to what a sustainable world population might be, especially starting from where we are now with many resources already scarcer. I have sen figures from 2Bn to 5Bn, but certainly it must be far less than the 10Bn projections.

    So there is an inevitable clash between the capitalist need for growth at all costs and the requirement to reduce numbers - quite apart from climate change - and I find it difficult to believe there will be a solution that does not include the usual population-reducing elements of disease, war and starvation.

    Please don't shoot the messenger.....

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  16. Wol @15, 

    I don't think capitalism absolutely needs a growing population. It does benefit from a growing population, but it's not essential.

    Capitalism is broadly defined as private ownership plus the profit motive and these don't suggest a fundamental need for a growing population. Several capitalist countries have shrinking populations and their economies work fine, the problem is more about demographic imbalances.

    Economic growth does not depend on a growing population either, because it is defined as an increase in the rate of production of goods and that could happen in a shrinking population using robotics, and assuming people wanted more goods.

    I think its more accurate to say capitalism and economic growth likes a growing population, or benefits from it.

    But you are right there is a conflict between capitalism and the need to reduce numbers. Capitalism wont like it, yet appears somewhat powerless to stop it because some capitalist countries already have shrinking populations (Japan and some european countries) and even although their governments are trying to boost numbers, it isn't working very well! In other words once people decide to have small familes below replacement rate, its hard to convince them otherwise.

    Yes it might still come to war, disease and starvation, but let's hope not.

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  17. The odds of a profit driven system remaining just and sustainable for any length of time requires very strong referees. As we've seen repeatedly, the referees are always bought, sooner or later.

    Likely the only sustainable system would be democratically planned, owned operated with "always in my back yard" strictly adhered to.

    With current tech, there's not reason we couldn't provide food, shelter, healthcare, education to all while spending very little time providing for these things (consider the large swaths of current society that do nothing material except drive in large carbon emitting circles).

    As far as population goes, as many studies have shown, education works very well.

    For ways we might go about this, give it a think as well as look places like, Murray Bookchin, Paris Commune, Free Catalonia, Rojova the Zapatistas (not to mention the large communerian movement in Venezuela) among others.

    But yes, it has to be democratic and peaceful to be societally sustainable as well as ecologically sustainable.

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  18. ilfark2

    "The odds of a profit driven system remaining just and sustainable for any length of time requires very strong referees. As we've seen repeatedly, the referees are always bought, sooner or later."

    I agree, but it may be our only realistic  hope to try and make it work. The alternative communities you mention sound great, and deserve some respect, but most of these communities fail for all sorts of reasons, and they don't attract many people. So are they any more likely to be viable than capitalism in some form? I realise a few seem to work to a point but thats a long way form a viable global model.

    Likely the only sustainable system would be democratically planned, owned operated with "always in my back yard" strictly adhered to.

    Would it be strictly adhered to? Human nature might decide otherwise.

    I agree with your other points.

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  19. ilfark2 and nigelj,

    My understanding is that the global awareness and understanding of what should be valued (encouraged and rewarded) and what should be devalued (discouraged and penalized) has to become what ilfark2 has stated. And the portion of humanity that understands that has to become large enough to over-power the correction resistant powers that have been developed.

    Without rigorous and effective external referees, the competitions for appearances of status based on pursuits of popularity, power, and profit will likely only develop more damaging results (that is what the climate science challenge has proven - resistance to correction resulting in increasing harm done).

    The resistance to correction of popular and profitable activity is undeniable. The result is harmful consequences developing until slick misleading marketing appeals encouraging people to be more selfish and greedier fail to mask the damage being done and who is responsible (everyone resisting correction, or being a bystander, is responsible).

    That developed reality is Unacceptable for the future of humanity. It has turned the climate challenge of the 1980s into the current Climate Emergency that the developed socioeconomic-political systems are continuing to develop into a More Damaging Climate Disaster (and the same can be said of the Biodiversity Disaster that has developed and resists correction).

    Clearly, the theory that 'competition in the marketplace will effectively self-correct and self-police' has been proven to be fatally flawed. Correction is required.

    Concerned caring people outside of the damaging whirlwind of competition for profit and popularity appear to be the only ones really trying to correct the undeniably harmful results developing in the fatally flawed socioeconomic-political systems. Everyone inside the whirlwind plays a game that includes claiming they will behave better if someone else develops a way for them to behave better that is cheaper and easier than what they can currently get away with (but don't restrict or increase the cost of fossil fuels, or subsidize the alternatives, to make the alternatives more appealing - because the 'supposedly concerned caring people inside the whirlwind' will get angry and vote against who ever does that).

    Without a powerful correction of the system, things are likely to get worse, not better. There is no reason to believe that 'the next winners in the energy delivery market will be sustainable and not harmful'. Without considerate people refereeing what develops the result is likely to just be popular and profitable activity that is as unsustainable harmful as can be gotten away with.

    The systems are undeniably fatally flawed, including democracy and capitalism. They are almost certain to not self-correct in a way hta minimizes the harm done. And as SkS, and many other climate science communication groups have identified, misleading marketing is a key aspect of the developed problem.

    Less consumption and less impact is what is required, particularly by the supposed leaders of society (the wealthiest and most influential setting the examples for everyone else). It is almost certain that will 'not' become popular and profitable 'in' the current developed systems. The current systems have developed powerful resistance to correction that would alter developed perceptions of what deserves to be valued, primarily because misleading marketing can be gotten away with.

    Effectively penalizing misleading political marketing appeals that are contrary to the achievement and improvement of the Sustainable Development Goals will likely be required. That will likely require an international institution that will be able to step on National Sovereignty when required, because people within a nation may not be effective at self-correcting (international intervention happens in other areas of concern - though harmful 'claimed to be required extra-national corrective actions' are still unacceptably popular and profitable)

    Developing International monitoring of climate impacts and effective penalty systems is the direction that things are headed. And the correction resistant have been fighting against that improvement because they understand how much they deserve to lose.

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  20. So, this is a bit of a throwback... I have a hard time locating resonses to my comments since i don't look at this site everyday and don't get email notifications... just dawned on me to search the website

    so nijel, just wanted to type that the largest most successful communities like this (Free Catalonia of the 1930s and the 19th Century Paris Commune... briefly Hungary (1955/6), Czechoslovakia (1968), and many others did not fail or get abandoned... they were crushed. We don't know how long Catalonia would have lasted, not to mentiont the Paris Commune. I'd argue, based off a lot of archaeolgy as summarized by Graeber, the majority of humans have lived in egalitarian societies for the majority of their existence... historians (and until recently archaeolgists) have intentionally turned a blind eye to this fact, so I wouldn't call them "alternative" societies... if you're curious, read Graeber's "Debt: The First 5000 Years..." 

    Dolack's "It's not over" seems to be good survery of various versions of "socialism"

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  21. Earliest for this quote so far is 2004.
    Does anyone know of a scientific paper this might be from?

    "It is estimated that between 150 and 200 species become extinct every day."


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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Link breaking page formatting shortened and hyperlinked.

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