The age of extinction: can we prevent an ecological collapse? – podcast

For thousands of years, the history of humanity can also be viewed as a history of biodiversity destruction. As tools, weapons and industry advanced, so did our ability for environmental destruction. Now the natural world is at a crisis point. Fueled by the climate crisis, we are heading into an age of extinction unless current trends can be reversed.

This week at the Cop15 conference in Montreal, Canada, delegates from across the globe have been meeting in an attempt to agree ambitious new targets. As Phoebe Weston tells Michael Safi, the topmost target is the so-called “30 by 30” pledge: a global target to protect 30% of the planet for nature by 2030. But that in itself is proving controversial: Indigenous communities are suspicious of landgrabs by over-reaching governments. And the 30% figure could be easy to game by declaring lands as national parks without addressing the underlying issues.

The conference is also an opportunity for companies to assess their own impact on nature. Indeed, the Guardian itself has begun a biodiversity audit this year. But for the most part, Cop15 is struggling to attain the prominence of the Cop27 climate conference. Leaders may live to regret their lack of commitment to a cause that many scientists believe is as urgent as the climate breakdown.

A hummingbird in Nanegalito, in the Chocó Andino de Pichincha forest area, northwest of Quito, Ecuador

Photograph: José Jácome/EPA

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