The severity of a crisis is not negated or diminished by denying it. Sticking to the status quo because it doesn’t suit our work practices, or social and economic norms, not only delays the inevitable, it compounds the problem.
The timetable must be dictated by the crisis, whether it is a pandemic, or climate change. This is because of the urgency of the crises that we are facing. For action and adaptation, the world requires more frequent reporting on progress (or lack thereof) to keep up with the pace.
Society’s response to the COVID-19 health crisis demonstrated the ability of citizens and governments to adapt rapidly when provided with information daily. Global assessments are required for the chronic crises of biodiversity loss and climate change. Published annuallyNot every few years.
The pace of the pandemic with half-a billion people infected and more than six million deaths so far, was alarming Daily epidemiological dataIt is important to plan and manage the response from the beginning. Failures in timely or accurate monitoring and reporting, and naïve responses, led to more deaths and illness, and many suffering with long COVID for years.
Nature will not wait for changes in scientific knowledge or public opinion, nor for electoral cycles to shift politicians’ priorities. We should learn from the pandemic and apply them to other global crises.
While regionally variable, the frequency, intensity and duration of extreme events related to climate change – including wildfires, droughts, floods, landslides and heatwaves – have International consequencesFor human health, property loss, and food security. These could lead to mass migration and instability in government, as well as military conflict.
The majority of people now understand the importance of it. Interrelated natureThe climate crisis and the loss biodiversity that is essential for food security and healthy ecosystems are two examples.
The pandemics, climate and biodiversity crises all have interconnected causes (see diagram below). One study lists 52 interactionsThis includes equity, governance, public and private health, food systems, water availability, hygiene as well as urbanization and infrastructure. These are signs of unsustainable human impacts upon the planet and its biodiversity.
Since its inception, in 1988, the IPCC schedules rigorous assessments of scientific knowledge and data related to climate change. This work involves thousands upon thousands of scientists, and many meetings at intervals of five to eight years. These meetings form a scientific consensus that is approved by governments.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) follows a similar path. Both organisations provide government officials with up-to-date scientific information in the form of assessments and special reports. These reports can run to thousands of pages, and are costly to produce.
The IPCC and IPBES have to shift their assessment cycles from once a year to yearly due to the rapid pace of climate change and loss of biodiversity. The following is the abridged version. Transformational adaptation in societyThe IPCC should also require that its scientific reporting be consistent with these requirements.
Annual reports may not be as comprehensive or detailed. There could be fewer authors. However, they would still have the same breadth and geographic representation. Data-gathering for analysis that covers only one year will reduce workloads and save money.
Accountability and Action
Reports could be simpler and more concise by focusing only on the facts and understanding. This would increase productivity and efficiency, as well as reduce production time. As the climate and biodiversity crises also pose economic problems, annual assessments could be synchronized with budgeting and planning by government and business.
This would allow governments adjust their funding priorities, policies, investments, taxes, fines and policies on an annual basis. Crucially, they could highlight any failures to meet the previous year’s promises.
Before the pandemic, almost all the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2020Not all of the requirements were met, including the failure by 2020 to protect 10% oceans under the IMO. Convention on Aichi Biological Diversity Targets.
Still Only 2.8% of the oceanis fully protected against human impacts, while 3.2% is partially. It seems that 94% of the ocean, despite international commitments under the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea, is not being managed in an ecologically sustainable manner. We are still far from the goal. New target of 30% by 2030.
Although action cannot be guaranteed in every situation, annual accessible assessments and a more informed population would ensure greater accountability. This is especially true since multiple reports would be covered by election cycles.
Social and political change
There have been calls for monthly data about emissions, as well. Annual national reportingon progress towards climate change targets. While Some people are in agreementTheir proposal is to change the IPCC assessment process as it is currently implemented. Stop any further IPCC assessments altogether.
We argueMore frequent assessments will bring about the necessary societal and political changes. Other shifts in societal behaviour – reducing smoking, alcohol abuse, healthy diets, drunk driving and promoting recycling – took years of convincing scientific evidence to take hold.
This ProcedureWith the climate and biodiversity crises, it is possible to shift individual behavior that then leads to government action. We’re optimistic that increased government efforts can address the crises, with their delays making action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions a higher priority every year.
The process to make primary data more easily accessible to society can be simplified and shortened, as was the case during the pandemic. Reporting of weather and climate(though sadly) Not for biodiversity data) is a starting point.
The process can be overseen by a diverse group of scientists from around the world, who interpret the observations in light of peer-reviewed research. This is similar to what happens with assessments. All of these will guide solutions to ensure the well-being of the planet’s ecosystem, and the future for all its inhabitants.