At least 50 million humans will be forced to migrate by 2050 because of the deterioration of the planet's soil, and up to 700 million if nothing is done to stop the damage, Monday said. Dozens of scientists
"Soil degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are three facets of the same important challenge: the increasingly dangerous impact of our choices on our natural environment," he said. expert Robert Watson, presenting the first ever global report on this topic.
This deterioration, caused inter alia by unsustainable agricultural practices, pollution and urban expansion, is already affecting 3.2 billion people, or 40% of the world's population.
Robert Watson (d), Chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), on the presentation of the first global report on soil conditions, March 26, 2018 in Medellin, Colombia (AFP – JOAQUIN SARMIENTO)
Soils are in a "critical" state, warns this vast study unveiled at the end of the 6th plenary session of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services es (IPBES) held since March 17 in Medellin, Colombia
"We have transformed a large part of our forests, our meadows, we have lost 87% of our wetlands (…) We really changed the Earth's surface, "lamented Mr Watson, president of IPBES, which has 129 member countries and has already warned last Friday about a massive extinction of the planet's species.
Badly exploited or overexploited, soils lose as. This translates into a decrease in "arable land and therefore livelihoods," which "will force people to leave," he told AFP.
– Global warming –
Soil degradation (AFP – Anella RETA)
By 2050, this degradation "combined with the problems of climate change, which are closely linked, will constrain 50 to 700 million people to migrate ", adds this analysis carried out by a hundred volunteer researchers from 45 countries.
The most optimistic projection will be reached even" if we really try to have more sustainable agricultural and forestry practices, to minimize climate change, "added Watson.
But "if we continue with our unsustainable practices," some 700 million humans will be forced to migrate over the next thirty years, he warned.
The phenomenon is fueled by the "highly consumerist lifestyle" of rich countries, as well as by the growth of incomes and demography in developing countries, the report adds.
It is also a factor of wars: "declining soil productivity makes societies more vulnerable to social instability, especially in dry regions, where years of very low rainfall have been associated with an increase in violent conflict of up to 45% ", according to the researchers.
A lioness in a zoo in Medellin, March 20, 2018 in Colombia (AFP / Archives – Joaquin SARMIENTO)
It has an impact on food security, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and therefore on all the inhabitants of the Earth, with an estimated economic cost of 10% of annual GDP. 19659002] IPBES pointed out that "4 / 5th of the world's population lives in areas threatened by lack of water" and that only 25% of the world's land has not been "significantly affected" by the human activity, a ratio that is expected to fall to 10% by 2050.
"Tropical forests have historically been sparsely populated because it was difficult to get in. Today we build roads, let us introduce agriculture, "Robert Scholes, one of the co-authors of the report, told AFP.
This affects animals, plants as well as forests that produce oxygen and absorb the gases responsible for global warming. The loss in biodiversity is expected to be 38-46% by 2050.
– Impact on biodiversity –
The report has required three years of work and compiles all recent scientific publications on this topic. Its realization cost about 810,000 euros (one million dollars).
The experts and decision-makers of the IPBES member countries "approved it (…) after thirty hours" of in-camera debates, said Anne Larigauderie, executive secretary of the organization.
On Friday, the IPBES issued a disturbing verdict on the planet's biodiversity, threatened by the first massive extinction of species since that of the dinosaurs and the first caused by humans.
Beyond the diagnosis, it has Monday again gave recommendations: generalization of sustainable agricultural practices, pollution control, urban planning including "green infrastructures", parks, among others.
Ms. Larigauderie told AFP "that it is possible to act (…) governments have at their disposal tools to do this".
The benefits of soil restoration are ten times higher than their cost, according to IPBES, which insisted on the need to coordinate international, national and individual actions, now fragmented.
"Take the Adequate measures to combat the deterioration of the earth can transform the lives of millions of people around the world, said Watson, but the longer we take action, the more difficult and costly it will be. "