“This is the most thorough, most detailed and most extensive planetary health check. The take-home message is that we should have gone to the doctor sooner. We are in a bad way. The society we would like our children and grandchildren to live in is in real jeopardy. I cannot overstate it,” he said. “If we leave it to later generations to clear up the mess, I don’t think they will forgive us.”

So says Andy Purvis, a professor at the Natural History Museum of London and one of the main authors of the UN’s 6th Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) report. The findings of the report are stark and the message is clear: our planet is sick and if nothing changes, we, as its inhabitants, will also become sick. The report, authored by over 250 scientists and specialist from over 70 countries, says that if we do not drastically improve environmental protection, we will witness areas in Asia the Middle East and Africa experience millions of premature deaths by the middle of this century. 

The science is clear. The health and prosperity of humanity is directly tied with the state of our environment,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment. “This report is an outlook for humanity. We are at a crossroads. Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or do we pivot to a more sustainable development pathway? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now.” 

 On the subject of protected areas, the Guardian’s coverage of the report highlights:

The report shows a planet in which the human footprint is so large it leaves little space for anything else. Three-quarters of all land has been turned into farm fields, covered by concrete, swallowed up by dam reservoirs or otherwise significantly altered. Two-thirds of the marine environment has also been changed by fish farms, shipping routes, subsea mines and other projects. Three-quarters of rivers and lakes are used for crop or livestock cultivation. As a result, more than 500,000 species have insufficient habitats for long-term survival. Many are on course to disappear within decades. 

 

It also highlights the fact that communities, as custodians of our remaining areas of wilderness and our last strongholds of biodiversity and natural habitat, are vital in winning this battle:

Greater support for indigenous communities and other forest dwellers and smallholders is also essential. Many of the last holdouts for nature are in areas managed by such groups, but even here, the pressures are beginning to take a toll, as wildlife declines along with knowledge of how to manage it. 

This report could not be clearer and could not be from a more reliable source – the UN. The report also suggests many focus areas and strategies whereby we can turn this dire prognosis around. Park.Doctor is passionate about bringing the healers of people – doctors – to work on this task of healing our planet. One of the key ways of doing this is to bring health to people in and around Parks as a way to encourage, and enable, them to value and protect those parks.  

 

Read the UN Report: 6th GEO Report

 

 Read the UN Press Release: Human health in dire straits if urgent actions are not made to protect the environment

 

Read the Guardian’s excellent summary coverage of the report: Human society under urgent threat from the loss of Earth’s natural life