International
via Wikimedia Commons

World - As Nature Declines, So Does Human Quality of Life, Study Finds

The past 50 years have seen a catastrophic decline in the planet’s ecosystems and natural environments.

  • Researchers working with the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reviewed more than 2,000 studies to determine how environmental decline is affecting human well-being.
  • The study found “unambiguous declines” in quality of life related to half of the IPBES categories of nature’s contributions to humanity.
  • Where the results were mixed, negative impacts were often felt more acutely by low-income people and poorer countries.

The past 50 years have seen a catastrophic decline in the planet’s ecosystems and natural environments. Every day at least 32,300 hectares (80,000 acres) of forest vanishes, and the size of wildlife populations has dropped by an average of 60%, according to a headline-grabbing 2018 study by WWF.

To some, this destruction is an unfortunate side effect of human economic development. To others, it’s symbolic of a species out of whack with its surroundings that’s rapidly creating the conditions for catastrophe. But while the debate over the costs and benefits of humanity’s march deeper and deeper into nature rages across the globe, few studies have tried to quantify one of the central questions of that debate: is all this change making us better or worse off?

In a study published last October, a team of researchers working with the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) sought to answer that question. The IPBES is a cooperative intergovernmental body set up by the United Nations in 2012 — similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but with an eye on biodiversity and ecosystem services instead of carbon emissions.

Read more.