Save the Planet: Study Finds That Millions of Plant & Animal Species Are at Risk of Extinction by Mei Marcie
A landmark report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which involved 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years with inputs from another 310 authors, sent a strong message that nature and our species are quickly declining. The warning is not just what we are doing to nature, but that the loss of nature can, in turn, affect humans. Some of the key study findings are:
- One million of the planet's eight million species are threatened with extinction by humans.
- Loss of land-based habitats' species by at least 20 percent, mostly since 1900.
- Loss of more than 40 percent of amphibian species.
- Loss of almost 33 percent of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened.
- Three-quarters of the land-based environment and 66 percent of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions.
What contributed to this massive decline in nature?
- Changes in land and sea use: More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75 percent of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production. Land has degraded and reduced the productivity of land surface by 23 percent, which can also lead to floods and hurricanes.
- Direct exploitation of organisms: For instance, unsustainable fishing is at 33 percent.
- Climate change: Global warming has affected half of the threatened mammals and one-fourth of the birds. Twenty-five percent of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by land clearing, crop production and fertilization.
- Pollution: This can be through plastic pollution, heavy metals, toxic sludge and fertilizers.
- Invasive alien species: This has increased by 70 percent per country since 1970.
Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the report, except those that include transformative change. Therefore, the report is a call to policymakers and to give them the tools to make better decisions.
Photo: According to OneKindPlanet.org, the amur leopard has been classified by the IUCN as Critically Endangered with less than 70 individuals thought to exist today.
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