Background Briefing: May 6, 2019


The Alarming New UN Report on the Destruction of Biodiversity and the Mass Extinction of One Million Species

We begin with the new and alarming report from the United Nations which is the most comprehensive and thorough check on the health of our planet ever undertaken by the world’s leading scientists that finds one million species are at risk of extinction as the ecosystems on which we and other species depend on are deteriorating more rapidly than ever. Dr. David Obura, the coordinator for CORDIO East Africa whose conservation activities in mainland Africa and Indian Ocean island states include research, monitoring and capacity building of coral reefs and coastal ecosystems, joins us. A global authority on threats to coral reefs, David is a lead author of the UN’s just-released Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. With coral reefs acting as a critical indicator of impending changes to other natural and human-dominated ecosystems so that we can prepare for and mitigate future disasters, we will discuss the gulf between what the science is telling us and what politicians are prepared to do. But with nature being destroyed at a rate tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past ten million years, the report finds we are eroding the very foundations of economies, livelihoods, food security, health and the quality of life worldwide.


An Assessment of Global Warming’s Impact on Life Over the Coming Decades

Then we put the new UN report in the broader context of the growing threat global warming poses to the planet itself and speak with David Wallace-Wells, the deputy editor at New York magazine and the author of the new book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.  He joins us for a stark assessment of global warming’s effects on human, plant and animal life over the coming decades. We will discuss how significant an impact the acceleration of global warming has been in the relatively short window of the past 30 years since Bill McKibbon and Al Gore first alerted the public about the threat to life on this planet that will ensue if global warming is not understood and dealt with. He describes a scenario and presents a grim vision of what life could be like in the not-too-distant future on our endangered earth if immediate actions are not taken. And while the United States is the only country on earth where global warming denial is holding up progress, our growing awareness of the need to address the issue still does not begin to catch up to the scope of the looming catastrophe global warming presents.