As we have already noted, WWF produced its Living Planet Index last week.
The summary report ends:
“The facts and figures in the Living Planet Report tend to paint a challenging picture, yet there is still plenty of room for optimism. If we manage to undergo the critical transitions necessary, the reward will be immense. Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch. There are several countries that have managed to raise the standards of living for their populations while using resources at much less intensity than industrial countries. Furthermore, the world is reaching a solid consensus regarding the direction we must take. In 2015, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted. And at the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted a global agreement to combat climate change, and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low-carbon future. Finally, we have never before had such an understanding of the scale of our impact on the planet, the way the key environmental systems interact or the way in which we can manage them.
Ultimately, addressing social inequality and environmental degradation will require a global paradigm shift toward living within Planetary Boundaries. We must create a new economic system that enhances and supports the natural capital upon which it relies.
The speed at which we transition to a sustainable society is a key factor for determining our future. Allowing and fostering important innovations and enabling them to undergo rapid adoption in a wider arena is critical. Sustainability and resilience will be achieved much faster if the majority of the Earth’s population understand the value and needs of our increasingly fragile Earth. A shared understanding of the link between humanity and nature could induce a profound change that will allow all life to thrive in the Anthropocene.
As Bill Scott’s blog noted: “The last paragraph is good news for environmental educators. We are still needed! Mind you, we said that in the 1960s, …” We did indeed, which is why NAEE started.
Is it reassuring that there’s still a job to be done – or just so very disappointing? Well, realism suggests that there would always be more to do, but this has to be tempered by the reality that so little seems to have been achieved.