Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

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Showing posts for "Biodiversity"

America’s Stakes in the Oceans Go Well beyond the South China Sea

by Stewart M. Patrick
U.S. President Barack Obama looks out at Turtle Beach on a visit to the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument on September 1, 2016. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

This week the Chinese and Russian navies launched eight days of war games in the South China Sea. For Beijing, it’s a chance to brush off the July ruling by an international tribunal dismissing the merit of its claim to jurisdiction over those waters. For Moscow, it’s an opportunity to flex Russia’s global muscles and tweak U.S. pretensions to be the arbiter of Asia-Pacific security. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is hosting a very different ocean reunion in Washington. On September 15-16, Secretary of State John Kerry will welcome representatives from some sixty countries, as well as hundreds more from business, science, and civil society to the third Our Ocean conference. According to the agenda, the conferees will focus on how to: protect oceans from global warming, expand marine protected areas, support sustainable fisheries, and stem oceanic pollution. Read more »

Earth Gets Its Day: When Will It Get Its Due?

by Stewart M. Patrick
A photo of Earth—dubbed "Earthrise"—taken by U.S. astronaut William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission in December 1968. A photo of Earth—dubbed "Earthrise"—taken by U.S. astronaut William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission in December 1968 (William Anders/Courtesy NASA).

Earth Day 2015 finds the planet in dire straits. Future generations will mock the inanity of designating a single day each year to honor the Earth while despoiling the planet on which human well-being depended.

The World Bank warns that temperatures will almost certainly rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius by midcentury. The consequences will be dramatic and likely devastating. Glaciers will disappear,ice sheets will melt, sea levels will rise, oceans will acidify, coral reefs will die, fish stocks will collapse, droughts will intensify, storms will strengthen. Global averages, moreover, will conceal dramatic local swings in temperature. Under current climate scenarios, global warming will make many current population centers uninhabitable, causing mass migrations. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ office, even by the most conservative predictions, extreme weather will displace up to 250 million people by midcentury. Read more »

The Age of Extinction: Can Anything Be Done to Save Our Planet’s Biodiversity?

by Stewart M. Patrick
An endangered poison frog (Oophaga histrionica) is pictured at the Santa Fe Zoo in Medellín, Colombia, in January 2013. An endangered poison frog (Oophaga histrionica) is pictured at the Santa Fe Zoo in Medellín, Colombia, in January 2013 (Albeiro Lopera/Courtesy Reuters).

In a world of crises from Ebola to Syria, it’s easy to overlook slow-motion calamities. Both the U.S. government and the mainstream media are vulnerable to this myopia, the former in thrall to the tyranny of the in-box, the latter forever chasing what’s “new” in the news. This may account for the silence that has greeted recent scientific evidence that the Earth is experiencing a devastating and potentially irreversible loss of biodiversity. Unfortunately, this man-made ecological catastrophe is unfolding at a gradual, if inexorable, pace in multiple areas of the world. But it is harder to find images akin to a hostage begging for his life, or health workers clad in protective suits, to hold the public’s attention and mobilize political support for action. Thus, humanity continues to sleepwalk, as the planet experiences only the sixth major extinction event in its 4.5 billion year history. Read more »