One Million Species Threatened Because Of Human Activities

We are at the on the brink of sixth mass extinction.

One million animal and plant species face extinction, many within decades, devastated eco-systems: humanity is rapidly destroying the natural world upon which our prosperity (and ultimately our survival) depends if people keep on focusing solely on financial wealth.

A landmark UN assessment of the state of Nature released on May 6 unveiled a grim assessment of the state of Nature on Monday during a 132-nation meeting that validated a Summary for Policymakers forged by 450 experts.


"We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health, and quality-of-life worldwide," said Robert Watson, head of the UN science panel on biodiversity.

Deforestation, intensive farming, overfishing, cities gross, mining activities: humans are the main culprits of biodiversity damage, altering 75% of Earth's land and 66% of marine ecosystems since pre-industrial times, according to the report.

Currently, the pace of extinction is up to several hundred times greater than the average over the last ten million years, the new report concluded. At that rate, we could hit the 75 percent mark within a couple of hundred years.


Whether humanity has pushed the planet into a "mass extinction" event may be a matter of definition, but by any measure, the rate at which life-forms are disappearing is deeply alarming, scientists say.

Follow the Ordovician extinction, Devonian extinction, Permian extinction, Triassic extinction, and Cretaceous extinction, this sixth extinction (which is not mentioned in the report) would both be the first one caused by humans and the first one humans could stop.

5 Main Drivers Of Species Loss

"The key to remember is, it's not a terminal diagnosis," said report co-author Andrew Purvis of the Natural History Museum in London.


"We still have time – though very limited – to turn things around", Robert Watson writes in an opinion piece published by The Guardian. But halting and reversing these dire trends will require "transformative change",  a sweeping overhaul of the way we produce and consume almost everything, especially food, the report concluded. "By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization," says Watson, acknowledging the pushback from "vested interests," is likely to be fierce, and adding:

"Business as usual is a disaster."

The five main causes are clearly identified in the report which took three years to write: land and sea use (agriculture, deforestation), direct exploitation of organisms (unsustainable fishing and hunting), climate change, pollution, and invasive alien species.


Even if the requirements to cap the rise in temperature to 2°c of the Paris Climate Agreements were met, the global thermometer has already gone up by 1°C, and on current trends will rise another 3°C by century's end,  with all the consequences to be expected.

Cut Back To Survive

The heavily negotiated text does not set benchmarks for progress or "last chance" deadlines for action, as does the 2018 climate report. Nor is the panel mandated to make explicit policy recommendations.

But it does point unmistakably to actions needed: reduce meat consumption, halt deforestation in tropical countries, discourage luxury consumption, slash perverse subsidies, embrace the concept of a low-growth economy.

The report will "serve as a basis for redefining our objectives" ahead of a key meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in China in October 2020, said co-author Yunne Jai Shin, a scientist at the Research Institute for Development in Marseille.

Konbini news with AFP

By Clothilde Bru, published on 07/05/2019


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