Last October, IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released its 1.5 degrees report, according to which we have 12 years to take action if we want to avoid a climate disaster. Our current efforts are too slow and will have catastrophic consequences for people and wildlife. Unfortunately, there is another threat demanding rapid action: biodiversity collapse.
According to the Living Planet Report issued by the WWF in October, population sizes of wild animals, fish and amphibians have diminished by an average of 60% in just over forty years. Finnish nature is also under threat. According to a study published in December 2018, the state of Finnish nature has continued to deteriorate during the past decade. Up to half of all Finnish biotopes are endangered.
A vital natural environment and a stable climate are the fundamental requirements for all human life. Without them, we cannot maintain our societies as they currently stand. If we cannot change our direction, we will be witnessing the failure of our social model. There is a great deal of scientifically proven information on what we should be doing, and steps in the right direction have already been taken in many areas. Nevertheless, we have been unable to truly turn our course towards a more sustainable future, neither in Finland nor globally.
The message from the scientific community to Finland’s coming Parliament and Government is clear: the conservation of our natural environment and climate change mitigation must be at the core of all decision-making if we want to ensure the welfare of humanity on our planet.
As research results warrant increasingly urgent pleas to save our planet, we at the WWF are acting accordingly. We demand that the forthcoming Finnish Government demonstrate strong moral fibre by making an ambitious governmental programme based on scientific demands to mitigate climate change and the loss of biodiversity. If the new Government cannot solve the problems of climate change and the risk to biodiversity, it will be too late to try to solve them later.
The environmentalists in our current Parliament are also endangered – there are far too few of them. We must elect many more environmentally conscious members of Parliament in the coming elections, as the new Government will be in power for the very years during which the future of Finland and the entire world will be decided. It is crucial that we all vote environmentally conscious people into our Parliament. They will listen to the message of the research community and be able to make ambitious decisions to ensure the future of our planet.
Liisa Rohweder is Secretary General of WWF Finland.
In the series Science Advocates, people describe the significance of research and research-based teaching for themselves. Read the other instalments on the Researchmatters website (scroll down).