WNYEA White Paper: ‘A biocentric viewpoint is needed now’

News and analysis by Dan Telvock, Investigative Post's environmental reporter

Canadian scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki coined the phrase “A Biocentric viewpoint is needed now,” but it’s become the mantra of a white paper that the Western New York Environmental Alliance released this week.

Suzuki wrote in his first research paper after leaving his day job that environmentalism has failed because the worldview is that humans are consumers of earth, not a part of it.

The white paper came from the Western New York Environmental Alliance Habitat and Natural Resources Working Group, Jay Burney, Joseph Schmidbauer, Larry Beahan and Art Klein. In it they wrote:

It is time for us now to take up this challenge in Western New York.  It is time for us to take a “biocentric point of view”. This is essentially what this “white paper” is about.  Climate change is rampaging our planet, our region, and our communities like an unstoppable freight train that has gone off the tracks.  We are no longer looking at a “predicted” future of possible highly variable extreme weather conditions and catastrophic events. That future is here now.

Some highlights of the report are:

  • There are about 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and climate scientists say that number needs to drop to 275 ppm for a healthy atmosphere.
  • Extinction is rising at least 100 times more than what scientists consider to be sustainable and 40 percent of all species are in jeopardy.
  • Economic growth and the GDP trumps environmental change.
  • Each year, about  20 billion gallons of untreated sewage and storm water enters the Great Lakes.  The Buffalo Sewer Authority releases 2 billion gallons into the Niagara and Buffalo rivers, Black Rock Canal, Scajaquada Creek and other smaller waters. BSA has a 19-year plan to address this but it will cost at least $500 million and there is no current effort to raise that money.