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A Million Animal and Plant Species Threatened with Extinction

Written by Subject: Environment

A Million Animal and Plant Species Threatened with Extinction

by Stephen Lendman ( - Home - Stephen Lendman)

Humans may become the only species in history to destroy it itself, and all other life forms with it — by nuclear war or ecocide, the ultimate armageddon scenario either way.

The ominous threat is real, not fiction. Imperial madness and absence of ecosanity may extinguish life on earth, proving higher intelligence is more a curse than blessing if things turn out this way.

According to an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report, one million species are threatened with extinction, adding:

"Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely."  

IPBES chairman Robert Watson said that evidence confirming the above threat is overwhelming. Human behavior is "eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide," he stressed, adding:

Without "transformative change," life on earth is being extinguished multiple species at a time. The IPBES report is the most comprehensive on this issue ever undertaken.

It was prepared by 145 experts from 50 countries, along with inputs from hundreds of other contributors. Material was drawn from thousands of scientific and government sources.

In the past century, land-based species have declined by at least 20%. Over 40% of amphibian species, around one-third of coral reefs, and over a third of dolphins, whales, sea otters, and other marine mammals are threatened.

There's more. Around 10% of insects, hundreds of vertebrate species, and nearly 10% of domesticated mammals became extinct by 2016, 1,000 more species threatened.

According to IPBES co-chair Josef Settele, "(e)cosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing." 

"The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed. This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world."

The report named what it called five destructive culprits: "(1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species."

Since 1980, greenhouse gasses doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees celsius.

According to IPBES co-chair Eduardo Brondizio, "(k)ey indirect (destructive) drivers include increased population and per capita consumption; technological innovation, which in some cases has lowered and in other cases increased the damage to nature; and, critically, issues of governance and accountability."

Other key report findings include the following:

Around three-fourths of land-based species and two-thirds of marine ones have been adversely affected by human behavior.

Renewable and nonrenewable globally extracted resources nearly doubled since 1980. Land degradation reduced productivity by nearly 25%.

Populated areas are at greater risk from hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters. In 2015, one-third of fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels.

Populations of urban areas more than doubled in the last generation. Plastic pollution increased tenfold. Hundreds of millions of tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge, and other industrial waste products are dumped annually into world waterways.

Fertilizers disposed of in coastal areas resulted in hundreds of ocean "dead zones," comprising an area larger than Great Britain.

Global land and sea ecosystems are being systematically destroyed, things accelerating at an unprecedented rate because of destructive human activity.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) managing director of its nature program said the IPBES report shows "nature is collapsing around us and it's a real wake-up call to humanity."

Humans are their own worst enemy. Their insatiable drive for super-wealth and power may kill us all — the bottom line conclusion of the IPBES report.

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