Established in 2012 by the United Nations Environment Programme and with representatives from 132 countries, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released and published a report last May 6, 2019 showing how human activities are massively deteriorating the global biodiversity, threatening about 1 million species of animals and plants.
From roughly 15,000 scientific and government studies collected over the past five decades, Robert Watson, the panel’s chair and a professor of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia in the U.K., warned in a statement “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
The report, which did not list individual species, found that 25 percent of mammals, more than 40 percent of amphibian species, nearly 33 percent of sharks and 25 percent of plant groups are threatened with extinction. Based on these proportions, the researchers estimated that approximately 1 million animal and plant species could die out, many “within decades.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund, since the 16th century, humans have driven at least 680 vertebrate species to extinction, including the Pinta Island tortoise. The last known animal of this subspecies, a giant tortoise nicknamed Lonesome George, died at the Galapagos National Park in Ecuador in 2012. A subspecies of the Javan rhino went extinct in 2011, and the western black rhino and northern white rhino are extinct.
“The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” Josef Settele, the report’s co-chair, said in a statement.
Though extinction occurred long before humans were around, the report found out that human actions drives more species into extinction now than before with the global rate of species extinction over the past 50 years already “at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years.”
“This quickening pace should be cause for alarm. It’s happening faster than organisms can respond evolutionarily,” according to David Wagner, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, who was not involved with the report. “That means new species generation won’t be able to keep pace with the loss of species.”
If this worsen, the stability of ecosystems around the world could directly affect human health, expert say. Knowing that the interactions between animals, plants, humans and the environment make up a complex web, disruptions with just one part of this could have a significant, cascading effects.
As Harrison Ford once said, “Nature doesn't need people - people need nature; nature would survive the extinction of the human being and go on just fine, but human culture, human beings, cannot survive without nature.”
Humans need food to survive. More than three-quarters of the world’s food crops rely, at least in part, on the activities of bees, wasps, butterflies and other pollinators, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The new U.N. report found that 10 percent of insect species are under threat.
“When you lose a species, think of it like a fabric, and you’re taking and plucking one of the strings,” said Brett Scheffers, a conservation ecologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, who was not involved with the report. “Over time, the fabric gets looser and less stable. These are the types of changes we’re observing where entire ecosystems collapse.”
WE CAN STILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE! (You read it right.)
Despite the unsightly report about our biodiversity "it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global," said Watson. To make this possible, we should start within ourselves the change and discipline in protecting, saving and helping our one true home, and it's inhabitants.
Sending Good Vibes...💙