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Transformative change assessments in biodiversity conservation: the importance of incorporating the emergency situation concept

Posted by mweber on
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Last seen 17/10/2019
Joined 27/09/2019

I am writing this as a follow up to my question during the excellent webinar of “How to change? for Transformative Changes” by Professor Karen O´Brien today (October 11th, 2019). I will be writing this fist as an academic specialist in biodiversity conservation and then as a “normal citizen of planet earth” (in more colloquial, relaxed and perhaps desperate fashion). 

More or less, my question was: Given the excellent conceptual framework on how to change proposed by Dr. O´Brien, I noticed that the concepts of “emergency or crisis” have not been incorporated. In so many ways, we really are in a battle against time when dealing with biodiversity conservation. Since the beginnings of Conservation Biology as a science, Soule (1986) pointed out the “continuing and shifting crisis nature of conservation of the diversity of life”. Conservation biology was born then, as a crisis discipline per se. However, almost 40 years later, we are dealing with a very different kind of “crisis”: one that is so short in time, that if we do not change many things of our impacts as humans in nature within the next 10- 20 years, several tipping points would have been reached and irreversible changes to nature and natural systems (for example; IPCC +1.5 degree Celsius tipping point warning, loss of key biodiversity species, rising of sea levels temperatures leading to irreversible changes, etc, etc, etc…) WILL TAKE PLACE. In fact, many are ALREADY happening!. Therefore, we can keep having all the good intentions as scientists, but all of our best intellectual power on what, how and even when to change in relation to ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation, but if we do not incorporate the concepts of crisis and emergency as a core foundation to the assessments and proposals, this will only be yet another “nice academic endeavor” with very little or no impact at all.

Now, my version of this as “a normal citizen of broken planet earth”:

We have no freaking time! (sorry about the language). Earth and it's natural systems we very much depend on are falling apart before our very eyes! Let´s be realistic, work hard, think hard, wish hard…but please incorporate emergency and crisis into these assessment exercises… Why? Well, because we are in one huge environmental crisis right now with no time to spare!

Thank you! Best wishes to all (and to Pacha Mama particularly).

Manuel Weber, Ph. D.

(both, a conservation scientist and a very, very concerned citizen of planet earth)