The United Nations (UN) Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services triggered an alert that has been echoed throughout the world. It is a report sends a global warning, since it details conclusions over the planet that need to be addressed urgently.
According to this landmark United Nations report compiled by more than 450 international scientists and diplomats over the past three years, people around the world are likely to suffer grave impacts due to nature declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history.
The report warns that one million species are threatened with extinction. Within a few years, one-third of our coral species and two out of five amphibian species could disappear, an issue that directly concerns the Caribbean.
Among insects, one in ten is being threatened. And, as we know, insects play an essential role in pollination, reproduction, harvests and nature´s cycles.
We have caused this scenario. According to the authors of the report, the five direct causes result from our own exclusive creations, since, for centuries, we have believed ourselves to be the lords of the planet and of all the life on it. Changes in land and sea use, the exploitation of organisms for consumption, climate change, pollution, and invasive alien species are transforming and destroying our world today at a rate ten to hundreds of times faster than it happened in millions of years.
After Hurricane María, Puerto Ricans have suffered the blow of climate change. That catastrophic natural event was the consequence of the natural transformations that are already among us. Sea-level rise in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, persistent droughts, increasingly frequent torrential rains and changes in temperatures that disrupt seasons as we know them are proofs of those radical changes that have already become part of our daily lives.
Is there something we can -and should- do in Puerto Rico to stop the disaster that is already among us? Well, we can put an end to many of our habits, which will require a long debate and intelligent legislation because it is absolutely necessary to do so.
The first thing should be to develop a really efficient recycling system for the waste produced on the island. This will require the support of an effective public policy on waste management.
But we also have to transform our daily lives. It is imperative to drastically reduce the use and abuse of most of what we have so far associated with modernity, comfort, and progress.
Broadly speaking, the island should take advantage of the reconstruction project to design a Puerto Rico friendly to the planet and, therefore, to all living beings. The revitalization of electricity and transportation systems are the logical vehicles for transformation through cleaner energy sources. On an individual level, we can limit the use of plastic, abundant in bags, plates, and cutlery, as oneof the measures to contribute to the environment.
We have already included many habits or needs as essential parts of our daily life. We have convinced ourselves life is not possible without them. And there lies the problem, we are destroying the planet through our unconscious actions and routines.
The UN landmark report triggered a warning that calls to an enormous concerted, obligatory and urgent global effort to change this path of self-destruction that we invented ourselves.