The United Nations environment Programme (UNEP) described trends that will have a significant impact on human life, the world economy and the state of ecosystems in the near future. This is the development of synthetic biology, the latest methods of restoring environmental ties, the melting of permafrost and the formation of peat bogs, nitrogen pollution and climate change, the press center of the United Nations informs.
Modern biotechnologies allow to modify genetic material, organisms and whole biological systems. This branch of science is growing rapidly – with its help, scientists hope to defeat the disease, for example, releasing into nature mosquitoes that suppress the transmission of Zika virus or yellow fever, and save endangered species.
At the same time, synthetic biology can lead to unpredictable and undesirable consequences. Progress was unstoppable, but UNEP called on the international community to develop clear rules to prevent the undesirable consequences of the uncontrolled emergence of genetically modified organisms in the environment.
Large-scale industrialization has led to the fragmentation of ecological systems that have been interconnected for centuries. Deforestation or construction of dams on large rivers is an intervention, sometimes rough, in the life of living beings inhabiting these places. It can lead to the extinction of animals and the devastation of large areas.
Today, scientists are proposing new ways to preserve linkages or restore bridges between ecosystems, from marine reserves to wildlife corridors that will allow biodiversity to be preserved.
Global warming leads to the melting of permafrost, which now occupies a significant part of the surface of the Northern hemisphere. As a result, solid soil becomes liquid. Scientists are very concerned about the high pace of this process, as it poses a threat to both the environment and the infrastructure that will inevitably be destroyed.
When melting permafrost released large amounts of substances accumulated over hundreds of thousands of years of glaciation. Plant and animal remains begin to rot, releasing methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This, in turn, further accelerates the process of global warming. It turns out a vicious circle.
Nitrogen in nature is very much, and this substance mainly has a beneficial effect on the environment and humans. However, human activity has changed the nitrogen cycle, and in excess of this substance is a serious threat to all life. Nitrous oxide, for example, as a greenhouse gas is 300 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide. This compound significantly impairs the quality of air, soil, water and destroys the ozone layer.
International cooperation was needed to ensure and achieved the nitrogen cycle was sustainable, cost-effective and did not harm nature.
Inability to adapt to climate change
Evolution depends on the ability of organisms to adapt to changes in their environment. On the issue of climate change, solutions must be global and long-term, UNEP is convinced. The most important thing, as experts point out, is to avoid temporary measures that may seem to be a solution to the issue, but in fact, after a while it will have to be returned.
For example, by 2050, 5.7 billion people will experience a shortage of drinking water. Many countries in connection with this trend, master ground water, reduce consumption and desalinate sea water. These measures, according to scientists, do not justify themselves in the long term. Instead, experts recommend the introduction of rainwater and wastewater treatment methods.
Or here is another example, when you wanted the best, but as a result no one won. After the devastating hurricane “Katrina” in the United States, scientists proposed planting large areas around New Orleans and other affected areas to serve as a buffer and protect against future floods. This meant the resettlement of large masses of people — mostly poor African Americans, and the authorities abandoned this idea. According to a study conducted a decade later, the poorest people in the area never recovered from the hurricane that destroyed their simple property, and many of them were forced to move to other regions of the United States.