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article imageNature is in more trouble now than any time in human history

By Karen Graham     May 6, 2019 in World
Scientists say nature is in more trouble now than at any other time in human history, with extinction looming over 1 million species of plants and animals. That's the key finding of the United Nations' first comprehensive report on biodiversity.
On May 6, 2019, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a summary of its first comprehensive report on biodiversity, and it paints an ominous picture of our rapidly deteriorating ecosystems.
The actual report, covering close to 1,500 pages is the combined work of more than 450 researchers from around the world who used 15,000 scientific and government reports. The report's summary, called “Summary for Policy Makers,” had to be approved by representatives of all 109 member nations. The summary contains 40 pages.
To put it bluntly, thanks to human pressures, one million plant and animal species may be pushed to extinction in the next few decades - leading to serious consequences for human beings as well as the rest of life on Earth.
Up to a million species face extinction  many within decades  according to a draft UN report to be v...
Up to a million species face extinction, many within decades, according to a draft UN report to be vetting in Paris this week
ISHARA S. KODIKARA, AFP/File
“The evidence is crystal clear: Nature is in trouble. Therefore we are in trouble,” said Sandra Díaz, one of the co-chairs of the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
The report, the first in 15 years to provide a comprehensive view of the planet's diversity, also includes, for the first time, indigenous and local knowledge as well as scientific studies. There is overwhelming evidence that human activities are behind the decline of plant and animal species, says the report.
Human activities that are major drivers of extinction include deforestation; overfishing; bushmeat hunting and poaching; climate change; pollution; and invasive alien species. Including insects, there are about 8.7 million different species of plants and animals on the Earth.
About 41 percent of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction
About 41 percent of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction
LUIS ROBAYO, AFP/File
These species, all of them, make up our “life-supporting safety net” and provide our food, clean water, air, energy, and more said, Dias. “Not only is our safety net shrinking, but it’s also becoming more threadbare and holes are appearing.”
Loss of species on land and in the oceans
"Humanity unwittingly is attempting to throttle the living planet and humanity's own future," said George Mason University biologist Thomas Lovejoy, who has been called the godfather of biodiversity for his research, reports CBC Canada. He was not part of the report.
"The biological diversity of this planet has been really hammered, and this is really our last chance to address all of that," Lovejoy said.
The United Nations said last year that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators -- particularly bees a...
The United Nations said last year that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators -- particularly bees and butterflies -- risk global extinction
JACK GUEZ, AFP/File
The report says that species are being lost at a rate of tens or hundreds of times faster than in the past. Over half a million species on land lack sufficient habitats for long-term survival and are likely to go extinct, maybe within a few decades, and the oceans are not much better off.
To be specific, human activity has severely altered over 75 percent of Earth’s land areas, while 66 percent of the oceans have suffered significant impacts, says the report. All in all, "grave impacts on people around the world are now likely," say the researchers, while adding that it's not too late to fix it.
The new report paints “an ominous picture” of the health of ecosystems rapidly deteriorating, said Sir Robert Watson, Chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which conducted the global assessment.
Orangutan numbers and distribution have declined rapidly since the middle of the 20th century  due t...
Orangutan numbers and distribution have declined rapidly since the middle of the 20th century, due to human activities. These include hunting, unsustainable and often illegal logging, mining, and conversion of forests to agriculture.
WWF
“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health, and quality of life worldwide,” Watson said in a statement. “My biggest personal concern is the state of the oceans,” Watson told National Geographic. “Plastics, dead zones, overfishing, acidification... We’re really screwing up the oceans in a big way.”
What do we value the most?
What do you value the most? It is a material thing, like money or a home, can you imagine what a multinational corporation might value the most? This is one of the problems with humanity today. To put the report in perspective, to save our planet, society needs to shift from a sole focus on chasing economic growth, the summary report concludes.
Instead of pouring more and more money into the exploitation of the world’s natural resources, these monies should be shifted to incentivize protection and restoration of nature—such as underwriting new reserves or reforestation programs, the report said.
Wetlands are being lost three times faster than forests  and the impact on accelerating climate chan...
Wetlands are being lost three times faster than forests, and the impact on accelerating climate change could be devastating, the Ramsar Convention has warned
SIA KAMBOU, AFP/File
Fighting climate change and saving species are equally important, the report said, and working on both environmental problems should go hand in hand. Both problems exacerbate each other because a warmer world means fewer species, and a less biodiverse world means fewer trees and plants to remove heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the air, Lovejoy said.
Loss of biodiversity is therefore shown to be not only an environmental issue but also a developmental, economic, security, social and moral issue as well, states the report. This means that a loss of diversity will have an impact - in increased poverty, hunger, deteriorating health, water insecurity, our cities, the climate, oceans, and land.
“Nature makes human development possible but our relentless demand for the earth’s resources is accelerating extinction rates and devastating the world’s ecosystems. UN Environment is proud to support the Global Assessment Report produced by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services because it highlights the critical need to integrate biodiversity considerations in global decision-making on any sector or challenge, whether it is water or agriculture, infrastructure or business," said Joyce Msuya, Acting Head, UN Environment.
More about Extinction, Human history, one million species, Food security, Health
 
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