An Incredible Story the Press Never Noticed

By David L. Brown

What if a four-year project by “the world”s top biologists” to study the subject of biodiversity loss revealed that the threat of imminent extinction was hanging over 12 percent of all mammals, 23 percent of all birds, and 32 percent of all amphibians? Surely there would be a huge outcry, with bold headlines screaming from the top of every newspaper front page and TV anchors wailing and gnashing their teeth. Right?

Well, as it happens, no.

Exactly that finding of widespread and imminent extinction, resulting from a survey called the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, was published 16 months ago, according to a news item in this week’s New Scientist magazine … and “its findings didn’t even make the front pages.”

Incredible? Yes. Surprising? Not when you consider the dimwittedness of the mainstream media and the politicians and pundits who play the MSM like Nero with his fiddle.

This week, according to the New Scientist report:

…conservationists will try again. In a declaration published in Nature, 19 leading biologists from 13 countries are calling for the creation of a new international body – modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) – to hard-wire the science of extinction into government policy-making. (read full story here; subscription required.)

According to Bob Watson, chief scientist at the World Bank and former chair of the IPCC, “virtually all aspects of biodiversity are in steep decline. There is an urgent need to bridge the gap between science and policy to take action.”

The researchers made a modest proposal, and not one with a nasty twist like that famous tongue-in-cheek one of Jonathan Swift’s (see note below). The scientists merely called for a permanent monitoring program to measure biodiversity loss. Remarkably modest, don’t you think? And yet, so far governments around the globe have ignored not only the conclusions of the research but have shown no interest in taking up the suggestion for on-going study.

In fact, some nations that should have a particular stake in the preservation of biodiversity, such as Brazil and Indonesia, have specifically refused to sign on to the idea. It would seem [and I hope I am not exhibiting too much cynicism here] that participating in such a program would hinder their ability to continue the rape and pillage of their indigenous rain forests.

Sadly, this is the story of our present day environmental conundrum, where greed trumps every concern for ecology and the profit motive triumphs over any effort to preserve our planet’s environment, no matter how modest. The general attitude seems to be: Use up or destroy all the resources as quickly as possible and let future generations worry about what to do about the health of the planet. Incredible? Disgusting? Yes, and far more than that.

Perhaps most troubling of all, the international press hasn’t even noticed this story. I guess they’re too busy reporting the far more important news concerning Michael Jackson, Sean Penn, Paris Hilton and other thought leaders and newsworthy notables. How sad. How tragic. How typical.

Note: My erudite readers no doubt know what I am referring to, but in case some of you may have forgotten Swift suggested in an satirical essay titled “A Modest Proposal” that the problem of famine in Ireland could be easily solved merely by encouraging the Irish to eat their own children. Swift would no doubt be horrified by some of the things that are happening in the world today. In fact, humanity as a whole seems to be engaging in a similar “solution” to the environmental problems that we face. We may not be literally eating our children — or at least most of us are not — but will we leave anything for them to eat in years to come?

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