Experts available to comment on landmark report on climate change, risk of extinction


Newswise — BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – An assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services highlights negative impacts of climate change, including the risk of extinction of up to 1 million plant and animal species. The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which reflects input from 132 nations, is one of the most important expert contributions to the global understanding of nature and nature's contributions to people of the past decade.

The report, co-chaired by Indiana University Distinguished Professor Eduardo Brondizio, demonstrates a clear warning about the direct impacts of our actions on our planet. A 40-page summary of the report was released today following IBPES' Paris Conference.

The assessment work correlates directly with work underway by Indiana University's Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative, which brings together a broad, bipartisan coalition of government, business, nonprofit and community leaders to help Indiana better prepare for the challenges that environmental changes bring to our economy, health and livelihood.

Eduardo S. Brondizio
Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University
Adjunct Professor, Department of Geography and O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Director, Center for the Analysis of Social-Ecological Landscapes (CASEL)
Co-leader of the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Assessment

"The Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive synthesis ever done on the scale of human impact on nature during the last 50 years, societal responses and possible future trajectories. It’s the first time we look together at the interconnections and interdependencies of societal values, economic development pathways, changes in nature and biodiversity, and climate change. It provides a sobering reflection on the critical situation of the global environment and its implications for society, and possible pathways going forward. It points exactly to the need for research-action initiatives such as IU’s Preparing for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative and Emerging Areas of Research Sustainable Food System Science project, which are addressing the implications of these changes to the state of Indiana and options contributing to resilient, fair and sustainable future."

Gabriel Filippelli
Professor of Earth Sciences, IUPUI
Director of the Center for Urban Health

"On a planet dominated by human activities and human by-products, the non-human organisms are suffering. As highlighted in the recent assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, our negative impacts on the species of the world are profound. These impacts include the direct activities of deforestation; landscape conversion to monoculture crops and the reliance of those crops on artificial fertilizers and herbicides; ecosystem fragmentation; global transport of invasive species; and environmental contamination. It also includes indirect impacts from our carbon emissions that drive substantial changes to global temperature and growing season length. Researchers at the Environmental Resilience Institute are working in interdisciplinary teams to measure these impacts and to develop and implement strategies that will result in a better coexistence between humanity and all of our non-human yet vital neighbors on this fragile planet."

Alex Jahn
Migration Patterns Fellow at IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute

"This IPBES report is an urgent and clear warning about the direct impacts of our actions on our one and only planet. We now number over 7.5 billion people who are consuming a vast and increasing proportion of our planet's limited resources, such as water, air and space. Yet, the air, water and food we use every day is a testament to the priceless services provided to us by biodiversity. Thriving and not just surviving requires foresight, something which Hoosiers have been doing for generations and a tradition that IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute is continuing through its research and outreach activities that are helping prepare Indiana for change. Certainly, preserving Indiana’s biodiversity will be key to ensuring a high quality of life for many future generations of Hoosiers."

Ellen Ketterson
Distinguished Professor of Biology, Indiana University
Director, IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute

"I read this report through the eyes of an ecologist and field biologist who has known of our need to prepare for a violently warming climate and biodiversity losses for almost 50 years. I stood in Dunn Meadow on the IU campus on the first Earth Day in 1970. I am also a person who conducts research on bird migration in order to learn how birds are being affected by environmental change. This means I have spent a lot of time outdoors, with the opportunity to observe nature and to know first-hand how nature has changed. This is not an abstraction for me. I know first-hand that winters are milder, migrants arrive earlier, summers are hotter, late summer has become drier. And I know first-hand that the birds I used to see in the skies and thought would always be there are now less abundant -- nighthawks, chimney swifts, kestrels, even grackles. This report is the wake-up call we all need to act to preserve the species around us that serve our needs as we need to serve theirs."

Janet McCabe
Professor of Practice at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law, IUPUI
Assistant Director for Policy and Implementation at IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute

"We see news stories every day about irreversible damage to coral reefs, risks to global bee populations that are so critical to our food supply, and the latest example of extreme weather causing disruption, loss of property, public safety and security, and, tragically, human life. We have done this to ourselves, to billions around the world, and to the many living organizations who cannot protect themselves, but upon whom our lives depend. We must not give up. We can make the future less bad than it will otherwise be. IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute, part of the Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative, is working with scientists, local government officials, community groups and others across Indiana to add the Hoosier piece to the puzzle of climate action."

Ranjan Muthukrishnan
Invasive Species Ecologist Fellow at IU’s Environmental Resilience Institute

"We are in the midst of an environmental crisis. It begins with climate change but extends to the spread of invasive species, the loss of habitat, environmental degradation and the extinction of species. The IPBES report, like its predecessor the Millennial Ecosystem Assessment, gives us a way to see the extent and consequences of these changes at a global scale, not just in the ecosystems we interact with regularly. Broad-scale perspectives from efforts like the IPBES and IU’s Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative are critical for planning and motivation around conservation of natural ecosystems and the responses of our own communities to continued environmental change."

David Polly
Robert R. Shrock Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Indiana University

"Ecosystem changes pose a greater and more direct threat to human well-being than does climate change. Natural ecosystems that sustain our supplies of food and raw materials, supply pollinators and natural compounds, and provide solace and relaxation are in a rapid state of flux whose outcomes are only dimly understood. IU’s Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenge initiative and the Environmental Resilience Institute are working to better understand how these massive global changes manifest themselves in Indiana, and to find solutions to guide our state towards a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren."

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