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Environmental short-sightedness can be costly

Environmental short-sightedness can be costly

As the UN releases a new Environment Program report, the Arab News article underlines the fact that no community can disturb the natural balance and live without consequences.

October 24, 2010 11:39 by

Our Earth is special. Though humans know and recognize it is as such, knowing full well that our planet harbors life in the most diverse forms imaginable — from the depths of the oceans to the highest peaks — their intrinsic drive to change is putting humanity at risk. And unless we act to bring balance in the ecosystems, we will imperil the order that makes our world special. Today’s rapid development that has seen governments and businesses pay attention to growth and change at any cost, long ignoring the destruction and degradation of ecosystems around the world, has been the reason for this growing imbalance. And not only are we paying a price in costs but also in value.

No community can disturb the natural balance and live without the consequence, for each organism has its own role to play in the global order. But humans in their quest for development have affected ecosystems in every way.What we do by our action is break the cycles that are necessary to survive — be it the food, carbon or water cycles. And the destruction sees no national boundaries. That’s why heads of nations should pay heed to the clarion call from the United Nations Environment Program report released at the two-week UN Convention on Biodiversity in Nagoya, Japan. The report urged governments to incorporate value of such national capital in their decision-making. The economic implications of failing to stop the loss of species and damage to ecosystems due to pollution, overexploitation or habitat destruction can be very high.
As the world’s cities grow, showing the value of “ecosystem services” like water purification and flood control provided by the surrounding countryside can help city authorities maximize efficient use of natural capital, said the report. It cited the example of New York City authorities, who paid landowners in the Catskill mountains north of the city about $1.5 billion to prevent runoff of waste and nutrients into nearby watercourses to avoid building a new water treatment plant for up to $8 billion. Water bills for New Yorkers went up by 9 percent, instead of doubling, as they would have with a new filtration facility, the study said.

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