It seems to me that in all recent meetings where I’ve been, the issue of communicating biodiversity is present. In Liège Governmental Conference “Biodiversity in Europe”, in Brussels’ “Biodiversity Research Conference”; in Biodiversity NGO meetings. What is meant by “communicating biodiversity?
Basically the need of communicating the value of biodiversity for people and the planet, and the importance of the current biodiversity crisis. “The measurable cost of the loss of biodiversity is somewhere between 1.5 and 3 trillion Euros per year. In comparison: the total sum of all the financial packages approved by governments worldwide to mitigate the worst financial crisis of the last century was 3 trillion per year”. These figures, presented by Pavan Suckdev, leader of the study “Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity” illustrate the economic value of the sound management of our natural capital.
Its true there is already a lot of information available to the general public about Nature: TVs broadcast frequently many nice programs about wild species, about natural habitats; about the beauty of Nature. No complaints about that. But…
Where is the notion that biodiversity loss is happening at a rate equal to 1000 times the natural (or fossil record) rate?
Where is the message that our own ways of life are causing major impacts and driving pressures that cause habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, invasions of species, etc?
Where is explained that our own lives rely and depend on the services provided by nature?
Where is the connection between the links?
That’s the current failure. Some say that scientists have some fault. But in fact, as some participant in the researchers conference said “biodiversity is very diverse” and unlike other issues, such as climate change is more difficult to tackle the diversity of causes and links. As someone said in another seminar, it is also more difficult to have an impressive single “round number” indicating a dangerous boundary or threshold beyond which the system no longer can re-balance it self, to present it to politicians, as we have for instances the 350ppm CO2 as a limit for safety for climate change.
Anyway, it’s worthy to make the effort. Someone among the researchers said “Its better to give an approximate answer to important questions than an exact answer to unimportant questions”.
I’m not an active scientist, but for sure will keep that in mind and risk to do so in what concerns communication, I’ll speak about that later.
“Do you speak biodiversitish?” could be a project to improve a better communication of biodiversity in the current context; I presented it informally to some NGO colleagues and people at the EU Commission, as a tool to help people that normally communicate with wider public or politicians. Available in the Internet as a resource centre, could have many contents for professionals of communication, NGOs and other.
Meanwhile, other efforts are done by many people around the world. I found an interesting publication called “Entangled in the web of life – Biodiversity and the media” by Mike Shanahan, from IEED. One of the things it mentions is the potential for tackling Biodiversity and Religion, which reassured my own thoughts and the “priesting” I’ve been doing about this the last years (see soon article on this here).
Note: this article was last updated in November 24th, 2009
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