Biodiversity loss … TEEB on the march

As I wrote yesterday, there’s a new kid on the UNEP generated alarmist block: “unprecedented loss of biodiversity seriously compounded by global warming”.

Looks like the Guardian was first to jump on the biodiversity bandwagon with an editorial:

Biodiversity: Variety as the spice of life Conservation is quite literally vital. This is a challenge that calls for serious science, serious action – and serious money

This has been the International Year of Biodiversity and a UN gathering in Nagoya, Japan, is getting under way, charged with launching a 10-year strategy to avert the collapse of fisheries, conserve the Amazon rainforest and check the spread of invasive species.

The auguries are not good. […]

Quelle surprise.

On this side of the pond, it was no surprise to see that the CBC (which has been studiously keeping its eyes wide shut to anything and everything that does not favour the alarmist cause) trumpetting:

Report puts price tag on environment
“The economic cost of ignoring environmental degradation is far greater than the costs needed to fix it in the long run, a groundbreaking report published with the support of the United Nations said Tuesday.

The report, entitled “Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature” was written by Pavan Sukhdev, a banker who heads the UN’s green economy initiative.

It found that nature provides trillions of dollars in “free” services to the global economy every year, and having to account for all of those services being removed would significantly reduce the world’s economic output and cost far more.[…]

Frankly, I’m surprised that the CBC hasn’t run this Official Video of the International Year of Biodiversity:

Then again, AFAIK, CBC didn’t run Franny Armstrong’s “No Pressure” video, either. But I digress …

So, the new kid on the UNEP alarmist block is the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Quite a mouthful, eh? Let’s go with the “official” acronym: IPBES. Or you could use their less bureaucratic, logo-friendly, ipBes

In case you were wondering how this new kid came into being … needless to say, it did not spring out of the blue; there were many meetings before it acquired a Propercase Name, but it seems to have begun as a “concept note” via a process called “E-Peer Review“:

In March 2008, a concept note was prepared by UNEP detailing the needs and rationale for an intergovernmental multi-stakeholder platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services, based on a request from the international science committee of the International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity process and the partners of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment follow up strategy. The document was made available as an information document to the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity at its ninth meeting, held in May 2008. Subsequently, an open peer review process was undertaken electronically for six weeks. In total, 588 comments were received from 30 countries and 27 organizations. The concept note was revised accordingly for consideration at the first ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting on an intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services, held in Putrajaya, Malaysia from 10 to 12 November 2008.

The revised concept underwent another E-Peer Review … and somewhere during the gestation period, there were some “intergovernmental and multi stakeholder meetings”, and on June 11, 2010 (in celebration of what would have been my parents’ 66th wedding anniversary) IPBES graduated from lowercase to Propercase.

What I’m not certain about is whether or not there is a difference in UN-speak between a “Panel” (as in IPCC) and a “Platform” (as in IPBES). But you’ll never guess who’s been chairing the IPBES meetings (I believe there have been 3, so far) … Robert Watson (predecessor of IPCC Chair, Rajendra ‘hell no, I won’t go’ Pachauri) What an amazing coincidence, eh?!

Which brings us to TEEB In the words of Study Leader, Pavan Sukhdev:

“By some recent yardsticks of sustainability, our global ecological footprint has doubled over the last 40 years to the point that, if the whole human population consumed at this rate, we would need 4-5 planet Earths just to keep up, just to sustain us.
“[O]ur study on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity is compiling, building and making a compelling economics case for the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity. The study is drawing on expertise from around the world to evaluate the costs of the loss of biodiversity and the associated decline in ecosystem services worldwide, and to compare them with the costs of effective conservation and sustainable use. The intent of the study is to sharpen awareness of the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services and facilitate the development of effective policy, as well as engaged business and citizen responses.

“We have the opportunity to reframe economics and policy for the 21st Century” [emphasis added-hro]

Good news, folks: Maybe we won’t have to worry about our carbon footprints anymore – unlesss they roll ’em into our “ecological footprint”. But, wait … there’s more. At an August lecture in Sydney, Sukhdev indicated that what the world needs now is to put “nature on the balance sheet” He has a charming mantra: “What you do not measure, you cannot manage“. I have a hunch that we’ll be hearing this mantra (his word, btw, not mine!) quite often. It fits right in with TEEB’s “biodiversity offsets or other schemes to mitigate and/or compensate…”.

Amongst the luminaries on the Advisory Board of TEEB, one finds (inter alia) Lord Stern, “IG Patel Professor of Economics & Government and Chairman of LSE’s new Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment” and Ms. Yolanda Kakabadse, “Trustee of the Ford Foundation and President of Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) International”.

What a perfect marriage of faulty economics and zealous ecology.


3 thoughts on “Biodiversity loss … TEEB on the march

  1. These people are relentless. If they can’t sell their agenda via one means (catastrophic global warming), they seem happy to repackage and sell it via another (catastrophic biodiversity loss).

    Lots and lots of money that could be being spent on fighting malaria, for example, is being flushed down the drain by these folks.

    • This is sooooo true (and so sad), Donna. Btw, on a somewhat related note … I’m inclined to agree with James Delingpole’s take:

      Suddenly it becomes clear why they kept Pachauri on at the IPCC. Because the IPCC simply doesn’t matter any more. Sure it will go on, churning out Assessment Report after Assessment Report, bringing pots of money to the usual gang of bent scientists prepared to act as lead authors. But the world’s mainstream media – especially all those environment correspondents who so lovingly transcribe the press releases of Greenpeace and the WWF as if they were holy writ – will have moved on, according to the dictates of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) fashionable crise du jour.” [emphasis added -hro]

  2. Pingback: Biodiversity – an ecology of dirty test tubes | Skeptical Swedish Scientists

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