Humanity Is Waging A ‘Suicidal’ War On Nature, UN Chief Warns


Humanity Is Waging A 'Suicidal' War On Nature, UN Chief WarnsPA Images

UN chief Antonio Guterres said humanity is waging a ‘suicidal’ war on nature in an impassioned speech about the state of the planet. 

The Secretary General discussed two authoritative new reports during an address at Columbia University in New York today, December 2, where he described the state of the planet as ‘broken’.


Guterres said the reports, one from the World Meteorological Organization and the other from the United Nations Environment Programme, ‘spell out how close we are to climate catastrophe’, with the findings proving that we need to prioritise ‘making peace with nature’.

The World Meteorological Organization’s annual climate report revealed that 2020 is on track to be one of the three warmest on record globally, with temperatures across northern Asia, particularly the Siberian Arctic, reaching more than 5°C above average.

Ocean heat has been found to be at record levels, while Arctic sea ice for July and October 2020 was the lowest on record, CNN reports.

Polar bear on mePA Images

Guterres laid bare the issues we are facing, saying:

We are facing a devastating pandemic, new heights of global heating, new lows of ecological degradation and new setbacks in our work towards global goals for more equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.

Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Nature always strikes back — and it is already doing so with growing force and fury.

Oceans are overfished — and choking with plastic waste. The carbon dioxide they absorb is acidifying the seas. Coral reefs are bleached and dying.

Air and water pollution are killing 9 million people annually — more than six times the current toll of the pandemic. And with people and livestock encroaching further into animal habitats and disrupting wild spaces, we could see more viruses and other disease-causing agents jump from animals to humans.


Guterres noted that the backdrop of global heating means that fires, floods, cyclones and hurricanes are ‘increasingly the new normal’. Carbon dioxide levels are at record highs and still rising, and methane and nitrous oxide levels are also soaring above pre-industrial levels.

The chief said governments around the world are ‘yet to rise to the challenge’ with climate policies, but he stressed that it is not too late to take action, saying: ‘human activities are at the root of our descent toward chaos. But that means human action can help solve it.’

Guterres encouraged nations to ‘flick the green switch’ as they look to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, encouraging leaders to transform the world’s economy into a sustainable one driven by renewable energy.

Antonio GuterresPA Images

He set out three main priorities, namely achieving global carbon neutrality, aligning global finance behind the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5˚C, and focusing effort and money towards breakthroughs in helping the world adapt to climate change.

Countries are set to meet in China next year to forge a framework to protect biodiversity and halt the extinction of species, while other conferences will focus on protecting the world’s marine environments, sustainable transport, food production systems, sustainable urban development and ecosystem restoration.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Topics: News, Climate Change, Environment, Nature, Now, United Nations


  1. CNN

    Humanity is waging a 'suicidal' war on nature, UN chief warns

Emily Brown
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