From the article, commenting on the UNEP report:
“It is essential that we understand the pace of environmental change that is upon us,” stated UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
“If current trends continue and the world fails to enact solutions that improve current patterns of production and consumption, if we fail to use natural resources sustainably, then the state of the world’s environment will continue to decline,” Steiner said, emphasizing the urgency “to work with nature instead of against it to tackle the array of environmental threats that face us.”
i absolutely agree with both Steiner’s cited statements, but i cringe at his soft-pedal phrase “the world’s environment will continue to decline.”
On geologic time scales, the world’s environment is in a process of sudden ecological collapse. We humans generally have not been able to grasp the climatic and ecological changes underway until very recently, since we live our brief lives on human time scales. But the fact now that those of us who have been here a few decades can, absolutely unmistakably, recognize experientially that the climate and the ecology are changing, means that these changes are incredibly, amazingly rapid in an ecological frame of reference.
In fact, scientists who study the geological record of life on Earth, say that the pace of today’s ecological disruption is faster than took place during Earth’s previous 5 “great extinction events.”
Again, we can’t really grasp this comparison experientially, but the fact that we can all notice clear climate and ecological changes just over the past decade, means the rate of environmental change on the geologic time scale graph has just shot straight upward in a sudden hyperbolic curve.
A process of “decline” sounds like some slow, steady reduction, but the reality is a sharp, sudden, and accelerating dis-integration of the complex ecological web that we are part of.
Red alert, emergency measures, “all hands on deck,” and fundamental transformation of the economy - “to work with nature instead of against it,” ignoring and overriding the entrenched interests that claim to “own” and “profit from” the economy - are what is called for.