Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New clashes in Tahrir

I'm waiting for more details on what happened last night in Tahrir from people who were there, but in the meantime, here's a BBC article on what is again happening in the country's capital.

Egyptian police have clashed with hundreds of anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, leaving several people injured.
Riot police fired tear gas to try to disperse the protesters, many of whom hurled stones at the police lines.
Tahrir Square was the epicentre of February's revolt that led to President Hosni Mubarak being toppled.
Many of the protesters were calling for the prosecution of former officials to be speeded up.
As dawn broke, stones and broken glass littered the streets around Tahrir Square. Witnesses said it was worst violence in the square for weeks.
The confrontation started on Tuesday when police cleared a sit-in outside the state TV building by families of those killed in February's uprising, activists said.
The protesters later regrouped outside the interior ministry and clashes broke out with police.
Fighting escalated and moved to Tahrir Square where lines of riot police carrying shields sealed off the main streets and dozens of security vehicles parked in side streets.
As volleys of tear gas rained down, injured demonstrators were seen lying on the ground, some dazed and bloodied.
"The people want the fall of the regime," some of the demonstrators chanted.
Ahmed Abdel Hamid, 26, who was among the protesters, said people were angry that court cases against senior officials were being delayed.
Last week, Egypt's former Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia for embezzling public funds.
Earlier this month, former Egyptian Finance Minister Yussef Boutros Ghali was sentenced to 30 years in prison in absentia, also on corruption charges.
Former President Mubarak, in custody at a military hospital, is due to go on trial on 3 August alongside his sons, Alaa and Gamal.
Mr Mubarak is charged with the deaths of protesters during Egypt's uprising.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Update on the Lion fight!

My last post about the idiotic lion fighter was a re-post from al-Masri al-Yawm. I was shocked by the reaction that most people gave this article; they found it very humerous, particularly the part where he claims that his next stint will be pulling a "plane by his teeth."

This update is for everyone who thought that the original article was so "funny." This is to show you the reality of how "funny" this situation really was.

I can thankfully report that the Egyptian authorities stepped in and put a stop to the fight, although they have not arrested the culprit, nor have they confiscated the lion.

Al-Sayed al-Essawy is no longer an unknown name in Egypt. For some, he is the symbol of an "Egyptian hero." For others, he is the symbol of how much work is still needed in Egypt to protect the innocent lives of animals and help ensure that animal cruelty will no longer be accepted and practiced throughout the country.

Al-Essawy claimed that his lion fight was intended to bring back tourism to Egypt, and spark international attention back onto the Egyptian Arena. Well, mission accomplished in many ways. People around the world stood up in protest to what was being allowed to happen. A lion, who would knowingly be drugged, was to be fought in a cage to the death, all in an effort to A) Bring tourism back to Egypt, and B) demonstrate the Israeli oppression of the Middle East (How, I'm not exactly sure - other than him promising to drape the dead lion with an Israeli flag, this is really just more hoopla to get more people talking about him).
He planned to drape the Israeli flag over the lion's body

I was so happy to read last night that the Egyptian authorities put a stop to the lion fight. I was not happy however, when the details surrounding it were leaked. 

Pictured below is one of the lions Al-Essawy was intending to fight. You can see that not only is the lion already injured (above his eye), he has clearly been sedated. Reports surfaced that Al-Essawy and his cronies ensured that four days prior to the match the lion was unable to sleep. Here you see the "man" and the "beast," or really, the shadow of the beast. 

Bear in mind when Al-Assawy was first proclaiming that he would fight the lion, he promised to do so bare handed. In the picture above it is not only evident that he is NOT bare handed, he is in fact carrying: A spear, a shield, and a dagger in the sheath on his side. 

The Egyptian Minister of Tourism openly declared his condemnation of the expected fight, yet authorities continued to bleat feebly that they were unsure of where the lion fight would take place. Interestingly enough, in the actual location of the fight were many journalists and members of the press, but no army or police personnel unless they were plain clothed. 
And he thinks himself a "man"

Although I am happy that the fight was stopped, I am saddened by the fact that Al-Assawy was not detained, nor was the lion confiscated. Why? There were no "vets on hand nor was CITES present" and Al-Assawy escaped to an unknown location. 

So answer me this...If you really condemned the fight, then why show up to "stop" it without any vets or experts on big cats? Was it really a surprise that there were lions present? I suppose one step at a time. At least the fight was stopped (15 minutes after it started) but yes...focus on the positive. Dear Egypt, please let this serve as a reminder that barbaric cruelty will not help revive the tourism industry. If anything, it is increasing international pressure for the relevant authorities to finally enact some animal cruelty legislation. 

The Born Free Foundation is now also involved in the case, and are trying to uncover the whereabouts of the lion to take it into safe custody. I shall continue to update here as I learn more about the details. 

If you want to let your disgust with this situation be known, below are some relevant emails that you can send your complaints and comments to:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My experience at the Giza Zoo

For those of you who have been following my blog for the past few months, you've probably seen the last post I made about the Giza Zoo and the protests held there. I have heard so many horror stories about the Zoo; how badly the animals are treated, how small their enclosures are, how some animals are evidently so sick they require urgent veterinary care. I had to go and see for myself.

K and I decided to head out to Giza on a random afternoon, which also happened to be one of the hottest afternoons we'd seen in Cairo this year (Temps of 40 degrees Celsius +). Perfect in many ways; this gave us the opportunity to see how the Zoo accommodated for animals that are used to cooler temperatures, and how they helped them adapt to the sweltering heat.

For a two LE admissions fee per adult (less than 50 cents), you were in for the day. Upon entering, we were immediately approached by an enthusiastic man with a camera, offering us the "opportunity of a lifetime." What was this opportunity you may ask? The option of having our photo taken with a lion cub. I respectfully declined, thinking "lovely, not even five minutes into the zoo and already I'm wondering if they really know what it means to have wild animals in their care."


K grabbed a map, eager to explore the zoo that he has been visiting since he was a child. Our first stop was the foxes house, also home to jackals, and raccoons. It was here that I saw the first very big issue that the zoo has to address. Firstly, the space that the animals had was sufficient for the smaller fox, but the jackals (which are known to roam vast areas of land in the wild) had barely 4 meters squared in the outside of their enclosure. I know that they have more in the back, but still not sufficient for such roaming animals. And it wasn't just the space. Next to us was an Egyptian family. It seemed everyone had come for the day to see the animals. I noticed immediately that they were throwing food into the raccoon enclosure. Bread, chipsy, anything they happened to have in their hands was being thrown at the raccoons. There were no signs instructing people not to do this, and I'm sure this is common occurrence. One raccoon was enthusiastically reaching towards the group, obviously used to being fed scraps, to which one woman proclaimed "they're so hungry, ya haram!" Feeding the raccoon scraps, which itself is a scavenger, isn't so bad. But I hate to think what happens when animals with more sensitive stomachs and strict dietary requirements (like the mongoose two cages down) are fed such scraps. The Giza Zoo much see a host of stomach problems that are all caused by uneducated ignorant people thinking they are doing the animal justice by feeding it, and no zoo personnel looking out to make sure just this does not happen.

So first issue that definitely needs to be overcome: Instructing guests that the animals are fed by zoo staff. FFS. Animal welfare 101.

If you were to head into Giza Zoo, one thing that would strike you almost immediately is how green it actually is. Stepping off the always congested Nile Road, the Zoo is a welcome respite. The noise of the city disappears, and were it to be maintained adequately, the Zoo would be a wonderful place to spend time.

In fact, dotted around the grassy knolls in the Zoo you'll find families who have set up an impromptu brunch or picnic, happily eating away. You would think that people would be grateful to have such a place of beauty in which to enjoy their meal, and would leave it as they arrived in it. Right? Wrong.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle that the Zoo staff ABSOLUTELY must tackle, is the rubbish everywhere. People will eat, and leave all their trash behind. They will throw it into the pelicans lake. They will throw it into the meandering river that runs alongside one of the goat's paddock. They will even toss it into the space in front of the lion enclosure. It took effort for us to actually get pictures without rubbish being evident. This saddens me; two of the biggest issues that I see to be facing the zoo have very little to do with the condition that the animals themselves are kept in, and have EVERYTHING to do with the uneducated Egyptians that frequent the zoo. (Remember, with less than 5 LE entrance for 2 adults - it makes a very cheap day out...)

Chimp in cage far too small

When it came to the conditions of the animals, I have to admit I was expecting the worst. From everything I have heard about the zoo, I was expecting open wounds, starving animals, dangerous enclosures, minimal space, etc. I only saw this in three enclosures - the elephants, the bears, and the great apes. The Zebra had a huge paddock to herself (although I believe her 2 companions recently died in the Zoo - perhaps colicing had something to do with the JUNK visitors freely feed the animals), the buffalo and other herbivores had ample room, and the lion enclosure was huge. The elephant saddened me; such a majestic animal chained for the duration of its life and used solely as a photo prop, and the bears in the heat were really struggling. With 2-3 bears per cage, they had only a small bath in the middle of their cage that they were supposed to cool off with, and fans with misters attached. It was the small space of their cage combined with the equally small pool they had to cool off in that really lets you see these bears are not living lives of luxury. Same thing with the Great Apes; the Orangutan only had a few bars to climb, and no where near sufficient room to keep such an animal content.

At least they have a pool...

Elephant chained

So these are my experiences with the Zoo. They have some animals in absolutely unacceptable conditions; whereas others appear to be happy, alert, and healthy. I truly believe that the first big step is to impose fines on guests that treat the Zoo like any other public park - free to feed whomever they want and throw their trash wherever they want.

Here are some of the better pictures.

The Lion enclosure
For 1 LE, you too can feed the Zebra

Peacock on full display!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Repost: Democracy vs Mythology: The Battle in Syntagma Square

Greece will always hold a special place in my heart. it saddens me greatly to watch a country being brought to its knees by a bureaucratic system of corrupt bankers, playing with money that never existed in the first place. Is Greece just the first step in a long line of countries to suffer this? Are Ireland and Portugal next? Take the time to read this article, and understand exactly what it is that the Greek people are fighting for at the moment - honest and true sovereignty in their homeland. You may see the original blog here

I have never been more desperate to explain and more hopeful for your understanding of any single fact than this: The protests in Greece concern all of you directly.
What is going on in Athens at the moment is resistance against an invasion; an invasion as brutal as that against Poland in 1939. The invading army wears suits instead of uniforms and holds laptops instead of guns, but make no mistake – the attack on our sovereignty is as violent and thorough. Private wealth interests are dictating policy to a sovereign nation, which is expressly and directly against its national interest. Ignore it at your peril. Say to yourselves, if you wish, that perhaps it will stop there. That perhaps the bailiffs will not go after the Portugal and Ireland next. And then Spain and the UK. But it is already beginning to happen. This is why you cannot afford to ignore these events.
The powers that be have suggested that there is plenty to sell. Josef Schlarmann, a senior member of Angela Merkel’s party, recently made the helpful suggestion that we should sell some of our islands to private buyers in order to pay the interest on these loans, which have been forced on us to stabilise financial institutions and a failed currency experiment. (Of course, it is not a coincidence that recent studies have shown immense reserves of natural gas under the Aegean sea).
China has waded in, because it holds vast currency reserves and more than a third are in Euros. Sites of historical interest like the Acropolis could be made private. If we do not as we are told, the explicit threat is that foreign and more responsible politicians will do it by force. Let’s make the Parthenon and the ancient Agora a Disney park, where badly paid locals dress like Plato or Socrates and play out the fantasies of the rich.
It is vital to understand that I do not wish to excuse my compatriots of all blame. We did plenty wrong. I left Greece in 1991 and did not return until 2006. For the first few months I looked around and saw an entirely different country to the one I had left behind. Every billboard, every bus shelter, every magazine page advertised low interest loans. It was a free money give-away. Do you have a loan that you cannot manage? Come and get an even bigger loan from us and we will give you a free lap-dance as a bonus. And the names underwriting those advertisements were not unfamiliar: HSBC, Citibank, Credit Agricole, Eurobank, etc.
Regretfully, it must be admitted that we took this bait “hook, line and sinker”. The Greek psyche has always had an Achilles’ heel; an impending identity crisis. We straddle three Continents and our culture has always been a melting pot reflective of that fact. Instead of embracing that richness, we decided we were going to be definitively European; Capitalist; Modern; Western. And, damn it, we were going to be bloody good at it. We were going to be the most European, the most Capitalist, the most Modern, the most Western. We were teenagers with their parents’ platinum card.
I did not see a pair of sunglasses not emblazoned with Diesel or Prada. I did not see a pair of flip-flops not bearing the logo of Versace or D&G. The cars around me were predominantly Mercedes and BMWs. If anyone took a holiday anywhere closer than Thailand, they kept it a secret. There was an incredible lack of common sense and no warning that this spring of wealth may not be inexhaustible. We became a nation sleepwalking toward the deep end of our newly-built, Italian-tiled swimming pool without a care that at some point our toes may not be able to touch the bottom.
That irresponsibility, however, was only a very small part of the problem. The much bigger part was the emergence of a new class of foreign business interests ruled by plutocracy, a church dominated by greed and a political dynasticism which made a candidate’s surname the only relevant consideration when voting. And while we were borrowing and spending (which is affectionately known as “growth”), they were squeezing every ounce of blood from the other end through a system of corruption so gross that it was worthy of any banana republic; so prevalent and brazen that everyone just shrugged their shoulders and accepted it or became part of it.
I know it is impossible to share in a single post the history, geography and mentality which has brought this most beautiful corner of our Continent to its knees and has turned one of the oldest civilisations in the world from a source of inspiration to the punchline of cheap jokes. I know it is impossible to impart the sense of increasing despair and helplessness that underlies every conversation I have had with friends and family over the last few months. But it is vital that I try, because the dehumanisation and demonisation of my people appears to be in full swing.
I read, agog, an article in a well-known publication which essentially advocated that the Mafia knew how to deal properly with people who didn’t repay their debts; that “a baseball bat may be what’s needed to fix the never ending Greek debt mess”. The article proceeded to justify this by rolling out a series of generalisations and prejudices so inaccurate and so venomous that, had one substituted the word “Greeks” with “Blacks” or “Jews”, the author would have been hauled in by the police and charged with hate crimes. (I always include links, but not in this case – I am damned if I will create more traffic for that harpy).
So let me deal with some of that media Mythology.
  • Greeks are lazy. This underlies much of what is said and written about the crisis, the implication presumably being that our lax Mediterranean work-ethic is at the heart of our self-inflicted downfall. And yet, OECD data among its members show that in 2008, Greeks worked on average 2120 hours a year. That is 690 hours more than the average German, 467 more than the average Brit and 356 more than the OECD average. Only Koreans work longer hours. Further, the paid leave entitlement in Greece is on average 23 days, lower than most EU countries including the UK’s minimum 28 and Germany’s whopping 30.
  • Greeks retire early. The figure of 53 years old as an average retirement age is being bandied about. So much, in fact, that it is being seen as fact. The figure actually originates from a lazy comment on the NY Times website. It was then repeated by Fox News and printed on other publications. Greek civil servants have the option to retire after 17.5 years of service, but this is on half benefits. The figure of 53 is a misinformed conflation of the number of people who choose to do this (in most cases to go on to different careers) and those who stay in public service until their full entitlement becomes available. Looking atEurostat’s data from 2005 the average age of exit from the labour force in Greece (indicated in the graph below as EL for Ellas) was 61.7; higher than Germany, France or Italy and higher than the EU27 average. Since then Greece have had to raise the minimum age of retirement twice under bail-out conditions and so this figure is likely to rise further.
  • Greece is a weak economy that should never have been a part of the EU. One of the assertions frequently levelled at Greece is that its membership to the European Union was granted on emotional “cradle of democracy” grounds. This could not be further from the truth. Greece became the first associate member of the EEC outside the bloc of six founding members (Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries) in 1962, much before the UK. It has been a member of the EU for 30 years. It is classified by the World Bank as a “high income economy” and in 2005 boasted the 22nd highest human development and quality of life index in the world – higher than the UK, Germany or France. As late as 2009 it had the 24th highest per capita GDP according to the World Bank. Moreover, according to theUniversity of Pennsylvania’s Centre for International Comparisons, Greece’s productivity in terms of real GDP per person per hour worked, is higher than that of France, Germany or the US and more than 20% higher than the UK’s.
  • The first bail-out was designed to help Greek people, but unfortunately failed. It was not. The first bail-out was designed to stabilise and buy time for the Eurozone. It was designed to avoid another Lehman-Bros-type market shock, at a time when financial institutions were too weak to withstand it. In the words of BBC economist Stephanie Flanders: “Put it another way: Greece looks less able to repay than it did a year ago – while the system as a whole looks in better shape to withstand a default… From their perspective, buying time has worked for the eurozone. It just hasn’t been working out so well for Greece.” If the bail-out were designed to help Greece get out of debt, then France and Germany would not have insisted on future multi-billion military contracts. As Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the MEP and leader of the Green group in the European Parliament, explained: “In the past three months we have forced Greece to confirm several billion dollars in arms contracts. French frigates that the Greeks will have to buy for 2.5 billion euros. Helicopters, planes, German submarines.”
  • The second bail-out is designed to help Greek people and will definitely succeed. I watched as Merkel and Sarkozy made their joint statement yesterday. It was dotted with phrases like “Markets are worried”, “Investors need reassurance” and packed with the technical language of monetarism. It sounded like a set of engineers making minor adjustments to an unmanned probe about to be launched into space. It was utterly devoid of any sense that at the centre of what was being discussed was the proposed extent of misery, poverty, pain and even death that a sovereign European partner, an entire nation was to endure. In fact most commentators agree, that this second package is designed to do exactly what the first one did: buy more time for the banks, at considerable expense to the Greek people. There is no chance of Greece ever being able to repay its debt – default is inevitable. It is simply servicing interest and will continue to do so in perpetuity.
And the biggest myth of them all: Greeks are protesting because they want the bail-out but not the austerity that goes with it. This is a fundamental untruth. Greeks are protesting because they do not want the bail-out at all. They have already accepted cuts which would be unfathomable in the UK – think of what Cameron is doing and multiply it by ten. Benefits have not been paid in over six months. Basic salaries have been cut to 550 Euros (£440) a month.
My mother, who is nearly 70, who worked all her life for the Archaeology Department of the Ministry of Culture, who paid tax, national insurance and pension contributions for over 45 years, deducted at the source (as they are for the vast majority of decent hard-working people – it is the rich that can evade), has had her pension cut to less than £400 a month. She faces the same rampantly inflationary energy and food prices as the rest of Europe.
A good friend’s grandad, Panagiotis K., fought a war 70 years ago – on the same side as the rest of Western democracy. He returned and worked 50 years in a shipyard, paid his taxes, built his pension. At the age of 87 he has had to move back to his village so he can work his “pervoli” – a small arable garden – planting vegetables and keeping four chickens. So that he and his 83 year old wife might have something to eat.
A doctor talking on Al Jazeera yesterday explained how even GPs and nurses have become so desperate that they ask people for money under the table in order to treat them, in what are meant to be free state hospitals. Those who cannot afford to do this, go away to live with their ailment, or die from it. The Hippocratic oath violated out of despair, at the place of its inception.
So, the case is not that Greeks are fighting cuts. There is nothing left to cut. The IMF filleting knife has gotten to pure, white, arthritis-afflicted bone. The Greeks understand that a second bail-out is simply “kicking the can down the road”.  Greece’s primary budget deficit is, in fact, under 5bn Euros. The other 48bn Euros are servicing the debt, including that of the first bail-out, with one third being purely interest. The EU, ECB and IMF now wish to add another pile of debt on top of that, which will be used to satisfy interest payments for another year. And the Greeks have called their bluff. They have said “Enough is enough. Keep your money.”
My land has always attracted aggressive occupiers. Its vital strategic position combined with its extraordinary natural beauty and history, have always made it the trinket of choice for the forces of evil. But we are a tenacious lot. We emerged after 400 years of Ottoman occupation, 25 generations during which our national identity was outlawed with penalty of death, with our language, tradition, religion and music intact.
Finally, we have woken up and taken to the streets. My sister tells me that what is happening in Syntagma Square is beautiful; filled with hope; gloriously democratic. A totally bi-partisan crowd of hundreds of thousands of people have occupied the area in front of our Parliament. They share what little food and drink there is. A microphone stands in the middle, on which anyone can speak for two minutes at a time – even propose things which are voted by a show of thumbs. Citizenship.
And what they say is this: We will not suffer any more so that we can make the rich, even richer. We do not authorise any of the politicians, who failed so spectacularly, to borrow any more money in our name. We do not trust you or the people that are lending it. We want a completely new set of accountable people at the helm, untainted by the fiascos of the past. You have run out of ideas. 
Wherever in the world you are, their statement applies.
Money is a commodity, invented to help people by facilitating transactions. It is not wealth in itself. Wealth is natural resources, water, food, land, education, skill, spirit, ingenuity, art. In those terms, the people of Greece are no poorer than they were two years ago. Neither are the people of Spain or Ireland or the UK. And yet, we are all being put through various levels of suffering, in order for numbers (representing money which never existed) to be transferred from one column of a spreadsheet to another.
This is why the matter concerns you directly. Because this is a battle between our right to self-determine, to demand a new political process, to be sovereign, and private corporate interests which appear determined to treat us like a herd, which only exists for their benefit. It is the battle against a system which ensures that those who fuck up, are never those that are punished – it is always the poorest, the most decent, the most hard-working that bear the brunt.  The Greeks have said “Enough is enough”. What do you say?
Help us by spreading this message to others – don’t let the media airbrush it out of existence, like they have done with the people of Madison, Wisconsin and the Indignados in Spain. Use the comments below (no registration is needed) to express your solidarity with the people of Greece. If you have any questions, again use the comments and I will do my best to answer. Raise the matter with people in power. Ask questions. Talk about it in the pub. Most of all, wake up before you find yourself in our situation.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb is the Lebanese-American philosopher who formulated the theory of “Black Swan Events” – unpredictable, unforeseen events which have a huge impact and can only be explained afterwards. Last week, on Newsnight, he was asked by Jeremy Paxman whether the people taking to the streets in Athens was a Black Swan Event. He replied: “No. The real Black Swan Event is that people are not rioting against the banks in London and New York.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Repost: World's oceans in 'shocking' decline

Living next to the Red Sea, I relate wholly to the dangers posed to our marine life by "man made pollutants," and other detrimental impacts that we have on our planet. Taken from the BBC.

The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists.
In a new report, they warn that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history".
They conclude that issues such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are acting together in ways that have not previously been recognised.
The impacts, they say, are already affecting humanity.
The panel was convened by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), and brought together experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists.
Its report will be formally released later this week.
"The findings are shocking," said Alex Rogers, IPSO's scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.
"As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised.
"We've sat in one forum and spoken to each other about what we're seeing, and we've ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we're seeing changes that are happening faster than we'd thought, or in ways that we didn't expect to see for hundreds of years."
These "accelerated" changes include melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, sea level rise, and release of methane trapped in the sea bed.
Fast changes
"The rate of change is vastly exceeding what we were expecting even a couple of years ago," said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a coral specialist from the University of Queensland in Australia.
"So if you look at almost everything, whether it's fisheries in temperate zones or coral reefs or Arctic sea ice, all of this is undergoing changes, but at a much faster rate than we had thought."
But more worrying than this, the team noted, are the ways in which different issues act synergistically to increase threats to marine life.
Some pollutants, for example, stick to the surfaces of tiny plastic particles that are now found in the ocean bed.
This increases the amounts of these pollutants that are consumed by bottom-feeding fish.
Plastic particles also assist the transport of algae from place to place, increasing the occurrence of toxic algal blooms - which are also caused by the influx of nutrient-rich pollution from agricultural land.
In a wider sense, ocean acidification, warming, local pollution and overfishing are acting together to increase the threat to coral reefs - so much so that three-quarters of the world's reefs are at risk of severe decline.
Carbon deposits
Life on Earth has gone through five "mass extinction events" caused by events such as asteroid impacts; and it is often said that humanity's combined impact is causing a sixth such event.
The IPSO report concludes that it is too early to say definitively.
But the trends are such that it is likely to happen, they say - and far faster than any of the previous five.
"What we're seeing at the moment is unprecedented in the fossil record - the environmental changes are much more rapid," Professor Rogers told BBC News.
"We've still got most of the world's biodiversity, but the actual rate of extinction is much higher [than in past events] - and what we face is certainly a globally significant extinction event."
The report also notes that previous mass extinction events have been associated with trends being observed now - disturbances of the carbon cycle, and acidification and hypoxia (depletion of oxygen) of seawater.
Levels of CO2 being absorbed by the oceans are already far greater than during the great extinction of marine species 55 million years ago (during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum), it concludes.
Blue planet
The report's conclusions will be presented at UN headquarters in New York this week, when government delegates begin discussions on reforming governance of the oceans.
IPSO's immediate recommendations include:
  • stopping exploitative fishing now, with special emphasis on the high seas where currently there is little effective regulation
  • mapping and then reducing the input of pollutants including plastics, agricultural fertilisers and human waste
  • making sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon dioxide levels are now so high, it says, that ways of pulling the gas out of the atmosphere need to be researched urgently - but not using techniques, such as iron fertilisation, that lead to more CO2 entering the oceans.
"We have to bring down CO2 emissions to zero within about 20 years," Professor Hoegh-Guldberg told BBC News.
"If we don't do that, we're going to see steady acidification of the seas, heat events that are wiping out things like kelp forests and coral reefs, and we'll see a very different ocean."
Another of the report's authors, Dan Laffoley, marine chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas and an adviser to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), admitted the challenges were vast.
"But unlike previous generations, we know what now needs to happen," he said.
"The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now."