Green - Humans Threaten Mass Extinctions
That devastating impact of human activity on nature is threatening more than one million species of plants and animals with extinction, according to a United Nations report.
The document from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) includes 40 percent of all amphibians, 33 percent of marine mammals, and another 33 percent of shark, shark relatives and reef-forming corals. Many of these extinctions could come within decades.
"Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing," said Professor Josef Settele, who co-chaired the panel that produced the report. "The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed."
The world's population has doubled since 1970, the global economy has grown four-fold, and international trade has increased 10 times over. This is driving humans to ravage the ecosystems we need to survive just to secure the short-term supply of food, energy, and material goods such as clothing. Soil is being degraded at a rate never seen, reducing the productivity of 23 percent of the land surface of the Earth.
Simultaneously, we produce mountains of waste: Plastic pollution has increased ten-fold since 1980, and we dump up to 400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other wastes into the waters of the world.
"We have documented a really unprecedented decline in biodiversity and nature, this is completely different than anything we've seen in human history in terms of the rate of decline and the scale of the threat," said Dr. Kate Brauman, from the University of Minnesota and lead author of the assessment. "When we laid it all out together I was just shocked to see how extreme the declines are in terms of species and in terms of the contributions that nature is providing to people."
The report says the only thing that is going to change this is a complete transformative change in the way we live in this world. I'll let you, the readers, decide if there's anything close to the political will to accomplish this in your areas.
"Crucially, governments must end the destructive subsidies, including for fossil fuels and industrial fishing and agriculture," said Andrew Norton, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development. "These drive the plundering of the land and ocean at the expense of a clean, healthy and diverse environment on which billions of women, children and men depend now and in the future."