Nearly One Million Animal and Plant Species are at Risk for Extinction
A UN report on global biodiversity paints a troubling picture for nearly a million, both plants and animals, who are at risk for extinction. Of the million species, included are 40% of all amphibian species, 33% of corals, and around 10% species.
While climate change has often been a driving force behind the extinction of species, this particular report highlights a multitude of factors that are contributing. Deforestation, changes in land and sea use, hunting, poaching, pollution, and invasive species are all listed as reasons driving this accelerated loss of biodiversity. However, the report lists one factor that is cited as being a central cause: humans.
Human activity has been a major driver of biodiversity decline amongst the millions of species on the planet. With the way human intervention has affected the global rate of extinction, it is estimated that it is at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been over the past 10 million years. The report states that human action has “significantly altered” about 75 percent of the Earth’s land-based environment, and 66 percenf of the marine environment. Some devastating consequences of this include the mass die-offs of crucial insect populations, the sharp decline of rainforests, and massive pollution in the ocean causing coral populations to collapse.
When compounded, these effects will eventually pose a significant threat to mankind in ways that we as a species have never witnessed before. This includes vital access to food resources, clean water, breathable air, and a loss of species on such a rapid scale that it allows for new diseases and parasites to spread more quickly.
These disastrous effects have proven to rapidly approach the point of no return, but scientists are not giving up hope on the possibility of stopping the destruction of the natural world. The report identifies two areas of biodiversity loss that must be addressed. ‘Indirect drivers’ refer to big-picture forces such as population growth and unsustainable consumption practices. ‘Direct drivers’ identify aspects such as land use and spread of invasive species, and are said to be more visible in their effects on the environment.
By identifying these, scientists say we must implement biodiversity concerns and policies that address the concerns of both. This includes drastic changes in areas like agriculture, energy, and the economy so that biodiversity may be addressed in a way that encompasses concerns from all angles. By mobilizing against what threatens the planet’s biodiversity, we are going to need to come together on a global scale in order to push for immediate and sweeping change. If not, scientists warn that the consequences could be severe.