A group of 145 expert authors from 50 countries has produced a report based upon a review of 15,000 scientific and government sources that is the first comprehensive look at the state of the planet’s biodiversity in 15 years. The conclusions are alarming.
Thanks to human pressures, one million species may be pushed to extinction in the next few years, something with serious consequences for human beings as well as the rest of life on earth.
Based upon scientific studies as well as indigenous and local knowledge, the evidence is overwhelming that human activities are the primary cause of nature’s decline. The report ranked the major drivers of species decline as land conversion, including deforestation; overfishing; bush meat hunting and poaching; climate change; pollution; and invasive alien species.
The tremendous variety of living species on our plant which number at least 8.7 million and perhaps many more – biodiversity – constitutes a life-supporting safety net that provides our food, clean water, air, energy, and more.
In parts of the ocean, little life remains but green slime. Some remote tropical forests are nearly silent because insects have vanished. Many grasslands are becoming deserts. Human activity has severely altered more than 75% of Earth’s land areas and has impacted 66% of the oceans. The world’s oceans increasingly are characterized by plastics, dead zones, overfishing, and acidification.
The main message of the 1,500-page report is that transformative change is urgently needed. In order to safeguard a healthy planet, society needs to shift from a sole focus on chasing economic growth. This won’t be easy, but we must come to the understanding that nature is the foundation for development before it is too late.
Photo, posted January 1, 2014, courtesy of Eric Kilby via Flickr.