Schaefer: Solving the biodiversity crisis means changing our short-term psychology

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By James Schaefer, Ottawa Citizen, May 13, 2019

(...)Recently, we were reminded of a deluge of planetary proportions. The UN issued its Global Assessment Report on the state of the world’s biodiversity. The figures are astonishing and sobering. Extinction looms for one million species; three-quarters of land and two-thirds of oceans have been severely altered by humans; plastic pollution is up tenfold in 40 years; crops worth three-quarters of a trillion dollars could be at risk from the loss of pollinators; 25 million kilometres of new roads are expected in 30 years. And so on.

The report makes clear: The swell of extinction is more rapid now than at any point since the dawn of humanity. Species are vanishing up to 1,000 times faster than normal — the consequence of a rising human population and its resource demands. Our impulse is to scramble for a mop, to stem the consequences of the flood rather than deal with its source.  We tinker with offsets, control of predators, technological fixes, weak regulations and mild incentives while we hunt for resources to replace those we depleted. As the waters threaten to overwhelm us, we remain fixed on the immediacy of business-as-usual. We cast around for more buckets.