I hope it’s clear by now that although I am highly sceptical about our ability to control the climate, I do care deeply about the environment. One of the things that constantly bothers me about the climate-concerned, is that attempts to control the climate always seem to trump concerns about the environment, to the extent that they often cause more harm than good. That is, inter alia, why I wrote “Saving the Planet by Trashing Iti and “For Peat’s Sakeii.

Nevertheless, there is another side to this, or at least there can be. Some people at the United Nations do seem to care about the environment for its own sake, not just as a useful tool to enable them to scream hysterically about climate change. Climate COPs are not the only ones held by the UN, for instance. Many people might be blissfully unaware that there are also biodiversity COPs.

Delayed Again

Of course, one reason why many people have no idea about the biodiversity COPs, is because the UN don’t take them anything like as seriously as the climate COPs, and the mainstream media don’t seem to be much interested either. I have written this on 25th April, the very day that Part 2 of COP15 on Biodiversity should have started to take place in person in Kunming, China, following the first part of the conference, which took place virtually from 11th to 15th October 2021.

Not only was the issue deemed to be sufficiently unimportant for the first part of the meeting to be held in person (presumably because of covid concerns) – compare and contrast the climate COP 26 in Glasgow; but nobody seems much bothered to get on with the in-person bits of the conference. Last year the UN websiteiii told us that Part 2 of the conference, the in-person bit, would take place in Kunming commencing today, and would continue until 8th May 2022. We were told:

The second and resumed part of the meetings are expected to address the remaining agenda items, including the finalization and adoption of the post 2020 global biodiversity framework.

We were also told:

The Secretariat will keep Parties and the public updated of any changes and adjustments to the schedule.

And now we learniv (the update was provided on 19th April 2022, less than a week before Part 2 of COP 15 was supposed to commence) that:

The second part of COP 15 will take place in the third quarter of 2022 (dates to be determined).

Yes, so seriously do the folks at the UN take the issue of biodiversity, that they haven’t even bothered yet to agree on some alternative dates. Nor is any reason offered for the delay. And the delay is occurring even though that we are told that:

Despite on-going efforts, biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide and this decline is projected to worsen with business-as-usual scenarios.

Biodiversity: Pressure grows for deal to save nature

Which all makes a bit of a nonsense of the above headline to a rare BBC articlev on its website, dating to 29th March 2022. It was tucked away in the “Science & Environment” section, with no chance of it getting near the front section of the BBC website (again, compare and contrast the near hysterical reporting through most of last year, reaching fever pitch when COP 26 was about to commence). By then, it appears that delays were already anticipated, since we were then told that the conference was expected to resume in August 2022. The article also told us:

Observers have slammed the “snail’s pace” of negotiations and are pressing for a strengthening of ambitions.

Divisions remain, including over financing the plans.

Observers might well slam the snail’s pace of negotiations, and they have even more reason to do so now, since April has slipped to maybe August, to perhaps the third quarter of the year, but on dates yet to be determined. Yet has anyone at the BBC or the Guardian, the COP 26 cheer-leaders, bothered to report on the continuing delays? Has Bernadette Fischler Hooper, head of international advocacy at WWF-UK been wheeled out again to comment on the delay? Not so far as I can see, despite the seriousness of the situation:

Scientists have issued repeated warnings about threats to nature driven by human actions, including chopping down forests and turning natural land over to farming.

A landmark 2019 assessment warned that nature was declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, with up to one million species facing extinction.

The Cop15 conference in Kunming is expected to take place almost two years later than originally planned due to repeated delays caused by the Covid pandemic.

This has left the world without targets over the course of this decade for halting extinctions and reversing the worldwide loss of nature.

Meanwhile, the spoiled kid that is the climate change lobby continues to gain all the limelight.

Who cares? I do, but I’m not sure many people at the UN, BBC or the Guardian are really much bothered.

Endnotes

i https://cliscep.com/2021/04/11/saving-the-planet-by-trashing-it/

ii https://cliscep.com/2021/06/29/for-peats-sake/

iii https://www.cbd.int/article/new-dates-cop15-virtual-2021-facetoface-2022

iv https://www.unep.org/events/conference/un-biodiversity-conference-cop-15

v https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-60737448

11 Comments

  1. A very worthy article.
    I was taught most about care of the environment and the need for conservation by my Physics teacher in the 1950s and strive to keep my environmental “footprint” as low as possible.
    What really annoys me is that very, very few people understand the concept of the “finite” least of all the waistful, hypocritical “climate change protagonists”
    One day we will exhaust the vital supplies for our industrial economy – that’s when what we enjoy will come to an end, and there will be no “magic bullet”!

    Like

  2. This has left the world without targets over the course of this decade for halting extinctions and reversing the worldwide loss of nature.

    I have become cynical about targets over the years. A lot of time is spent compiling lists of threatened species, and then not much time is spent actually protecting them. The Natura 2000 network actually seems to be rather good until you find that its protection is paper thin. Regarding Hornsea 3:

    The Secretary of State is satisfied that there are no alternatives to fulfilling the objectives of the Development and that the Development provides a benefit that is imperative to the public interest. He is also satisfied that the public benefits of the Development would over-ride the impacts to the Flamborough and Filey Coast Special Protection Area and the North Norfolk Sandbanks and Saturn Reef Special Area of Conservation and The Wash and North Norfolk Coast Special Area of Conservation, if appropriate compensation is secured. He is further satisfied that appropriate compensation would be secured by the conditions he intends to attach to the Order.

    The conditions are artificial kittiwake nests. There are apparently no alternatives to a wind farm which is “imperative to the public interest.” An example of an international conservation agreement that you can more or less ignore when it’s not convenient.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Here’s an example of the sort of thing I was alluding to:

    “50bn tonnes of sand and gravel extracted each year, finds UN study
    Calls for international standard on extraction and better monitoring of most-exploited resource after water”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/26/50bn-tonnes-of-sand-and-gravel-extracted-each-year-finds-un-study

    “Humans extract 50bn tonnes of sand and gravel every year, according to UN research, enough to build a wall 27 metres high by 27 metres wide around the planet.

    Sand is the most-exploited resource after water. But unlike water, it is not recognised as a key strategic resource by governments and industry, something, the UN says, that must change and fast.

    The UN report makes the case for greater monitoring of extraction and supply chains, measures to compensate for the associated loss of animal and plant species as well as the uneven social and economic impacts of sand mining.

    Given the extent and growing awareness of human reliance on sand for economic development in industries, ranging from construction to IT manufacturing and a number of other booming sectors, the researchers said a fundamental shift in the understanding and valuation of sand was urgently needed.”

    Hmm. “…a number of other booming sectors…”. Would that include solar panel manufacturing?

    https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/blog/2014/12/how-are-solar-panels-made

    “It all starts with the raw material, which in our case is sand. Most solar panels are made of silicon, which is the main component in natural beach sand.

    Silicon is abundantly available, making it the second most available element on Earth.

    However, converting sand into high grade silicon comes at a high cost and is an energy intensive process. High-purity silicon is produced from quartz sand in an arc furnace at very high temperatures.”

    But back to the Guardian article:

    “A lack of governance has up to now created an informational black hole around the procurement and use of sand. The Global Aggregates Information Network estimated aggregates production rose 4.9% in the last year from 42.2bn tonnes in 2020 to 44.3bn tonnes in 2021. But the UN report noted: “Globally, the sand supply base is not known and only aggregate production estimates are available.”

    Meanwhile, sand extraction continues to drive biodiversity loss, exacerbates flood risk in removing natural barriers to storm surge such as dunes, affects the livelihoods of fishing communities and even fuel conflict. Its end uses are also some of the biggest industrial contributors to the climate crisis, with recent estimates suggesting the concrete sector, if it were measured as a country, would have the third-highest carbon emissions in the world.

    Emerging research suggests more than 1,000 threatened “red list” species of animals and plants are affected by sand and gravel extraction – with that figure thought to extend to 24,000 species overall.”

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  4. It should be considered that commonly aggregate extraction extends down to or below the water table. This means that, upon abandonment (which commonly happens rather quickly) the holes become valuable sites for refuse disposal or, if abandoned, flood and become converted into wetlands, so benefiting a different and valued type of wildlife. Even some refuse sites are grassed or treed over and get added to our otherwise fast-declining wildlife habitat.

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  5. Alan, interesting observations. No doubt true in some cases. But on a large scale, does sand and gravel extraction do more harm than good to biodiversity? At least we here ask the questions – the usual suspects won’t even go there, I suspect.

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  6. Mark. The question is if you protect habitat by not extracting aggregates, what do you use in their place? Forego large buildings? Return to mud n’wattle?

    There is another aspect and that is that you reduce the monetary value of land to near zero when you seemingly protect it by conferring upon it special status. Developers see parcels of land with essentially zero value and time after time are able to convince authorities to waive protections and yet another precious nugget is consumed into the development maw.

    Like

  7. Not a mention of climate change, almost astonishingly:

    “One in five reptiles is threatened with extinction”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-61242789

    “One in five reptiles is threatened with extinction, according to the first comprehensive assessment of more than 10,000 species across the world.

    Scientists are calling for urgent conservation action for crocodiles and turtles, which are in a particularly dire situation.

    They say reptiles have long been overlooked in conservation, because they are seen as less charismatic than “furry and feathery” creatures.

    So far, 31 species have gone extinct….

    …Habitat destruction from the expansion of farmland, urban development and logging is a big factor pushing reptiles to the brink. Crocodiles and turtles also face threats from hunting…

    …Neil Cox of the IUCN-Conservation International Biodiversity Assessment Unit said negotiations at the upcoming summit on biodiversity in Kunming, China, will be critical for trying to turn the tide on biodiversity loss.

    “The hope is that we can really start making efforts to reverse this extinction catastrophe,” he said.

    The final version of the draft UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will be negotiated at the COP15 summit, which is expected to take place at the end of August….”.

    Better late than never, I suppose.

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  8. “Nature loss: ‘Insatiable greed’ degrading land around the world”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-61221666

    That and wind farms….

    But back to the article:

    “Human activities are damaging and degrading the lands of the Earth in an unsustainable fashion according to a new UN report.

    Up to 40% of the global terrain has already been devalued, mainly through modern agriculture.

    If nothing changes, then an additional area of land the size of South America will be damaged by 2050.”

    Like

  9. “Pollution responsible for one in six deaths across planet, scientists warn
    Toxic air, water and soil are ‘existential threat to human and planetary health’, says global review”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/17/pollution-responsible-one-in-six-deaths-across-planet

    “Pollution is killing 9 million people a year, a review has found, making it responsible for one in six of all deaths.

    Toxic air and contaminated water and soil “is an existential threat to human health and planetary health, and jeopardises the sustainability of modern societies”, the review concluded.

    The death toll from pollution dwarfs that from road traffic deaths, HIV/Aids, malaria and TB combined, or from drug and alcohol misuse. The researchers calculated the economic impact of pollution deaths at $4.6tn (£3.7tn), about $9m a minute.

    The overall impact of pollution has not improved since the first global review in 2017, since when 45 million lives have been lost to it. Prevention was largely overlooked in the international development agenda, the researchers said, with funding increasing only minimally since 2015….

    …Toxic chemicals resulted in 1.8 million deaths, including 900,000 deaths from lead pollution, which is more than from HIV/Aids. Lead poisoning could significantly reduce intelligence across large populations, Fuller said, sources of which include water pipes, paint, backyard car battery recycling, as well foodstuffs such as contaminated turmeric.

    The number of deaths from chemical pollutants was likely to be an underestimate, the scientists said, as only a small proportion of the 350,000 synthetic chemicals in use had been adequately tested for safety. The cocktail of chemical pollution that pervades the planet has passed the safe limit for the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends, researchers reported in January.

    More than 90% of pollution deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, such as India and Nigeria. While high-income countries, such as the US and members of the EU, had controlled the worst forms of pollution, the researchers said, few less affluent nations had been able to make pollution a priority….”.

    Which, I suppose, is why the UN largely ignores this and climate change is the great obsession…

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  10. “‘Sleepwalking through extinction’: China urged to end delays to Cop15 summit
    Covid lockdowns in host country frustrate scientists as no date in sight for key UN conservation conference after two years of delays”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/20/sleepwalking-into-disaster-china-urged-end-delays-set-date-kunming-cop15-un-summit-aoe

    “China has been urged to name a date for a key UN nature summit this year, amid growing frustration with Beijing and concerns among experts that we are “sleepwalking through this cataclysmic climate extinction”.

    After two years of delays, governments had been scheduled to meet in Kunming, China, for Cop15 in late April to negotiate this decade’s targets to halt and reverse the rampant destruction of ecosystems and wildlife crucial to human civilisation. It had been hoped the summit would be a “Paris moment” for biodiversity, with China holding the presidency for a major UN environmental agreement for the first time.

    But after successive pandemic-related delays, and now a Covid-19 outbreak the Chinese government is struggling to control, there is no date for the summit despite dire scientific warnings about a human-driven sixth mass extinction of life on Earth.

    At a bureau meeting of the UN convention on biological diversity on Thursday, China was again unable to provide a date for the event, which it had previously indicated might take place at the end of August.

    Oscar Soria, campaign director of the activism site Avaaz, said: “It’s unbelievable that China is not able to provide any answers [about the date for Cop15]. It sends the wrong message – that this is not important, and can be postponed, even though we are in an ecological emergency and this cannot wait….”…”.

    And:

    “…Doug Flynn, a biodiversity financing specialist, said: “The political process feels as though it’s being ignored – not treated with the seriousness it deserves. Every time you push it down the road, you weaken it because you’ve got less time to actually action it and make it real … The political process is essential because it sets the playing field. Policy is the most powerful tool we have in this fight.

    “For someone working in the sector for so long, it feels like we’re sleeping through this cataclysmic climate extinction,” he said. “The deafening silence of collapsing ecosystems seems to be matched by the deafening silence of global action, and that has to change.”…”.

    I am often quick to criticise the Guardian (with good reason, I think) but I give it credit for highlighting this issue on this occasion.

    Like

  11. No great surprise, perhaps, but there are some who want the UN Biodiversity Conference’s COP15 to be mostly about climate change. Here’s an open letter signed by 144 scientists (allegedly):

    https://www.ceebill.uk/cop15

    Some familiar names. Eg, Charlie Gardner, who co-founded Scientist Rebellion (the tiny XR outfit that recently got $100k from US plutocrats, possibly by mistake), Sir Andy Haines (who said in the early noughties that climate change was already killing ~150k people a year) and Dave Goulson (who used to be the go-to expert on UK bees but has become deranged by the climate crisis in recent years).

    The letter was organised by Zero Hour, which provided the 144 tally.

    But some of the signatories appear twice. Is 144 a gross overstatement? (Geddit?) Prolly not. 120?

    And are they all scientists? Can’t be arsed to check but such letters usually attract people who are only tenuously linked to science.

    Like

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