New UN report: Largest global extinction since the extinction of dinosaurs

New UN report: Largest global extinction since the extinction of dinosaurs

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Dark UN report shows the state of the world ecosystem

A comprehensive UN report on the current health status of our entire ecosystem was recently presented. The report paints a terrifying picture: around one million animal and plant species are currently threatened with extinction - every eight species. Human changes are the main cause. The earth is facing the greatest extinction in human history.

The "Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services" (IPBES) presented its trend-setting summary of the state of our ecosystem in Paris from April 29 to May 4, 2019. The report was compiled by 145 experts from 50 countries and assesses the catastrophic changes in the ecosystem over the past 50 years. All 132 participating Member States signed the report.

Unprecedented decline in nature

"The overwhelming evidence of the global assessment paints a threatening picture," IPBES chairman Sir Robert Watson warns in a press release on the report. The health of the ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating faster than ever. The foundations of our economies, nutrition, health and quality of life are on the brink worldwide.

Most comprehensive eco report ever

The global IPBES assessment report is the most comprehensive that has ever been completed. It provides a detailed picture of the relationship between economic development paths and their impact on nature. In addition, it shows a number of possible scenarios for the coming decades. The report is based on 15,000 scientific and government sources.

Destructive judgment

The report found that around a million animal and plant species are at risk of extinction. Many of these species were driven to extinction within a few decades. According to the UN report, the density of native animal and plant species in land habitats has decreased by at least 20 percent since 1900. In the case of amphibian species, a decline of 40 percent was even registered. The effects are even more drastic in the sea. Around one in three marine mammals and one in three coral species is threatened with extinction. In addition, every tenth species of insect is considered endangered.

Humanity in the dock

"This loss is a direct result of human activities and poses a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world," explains Josef Settele, the leading professor from Germany. "Biodiversity and nature's contribution to human beings are our common heritage and the most important life-supporting safety net for mankind," adds Sandra Díaz, the head professor from Argentina. This safety net is now stretched beyond the limit of resilience.

Is it too late for our planet?

"The report also tells us that it is not too late to change anything, but only if we start acting at every level now," said Sir Robert Watson. Through a transformative change, nature can still be preserved, restored and used sustainably. This change must include a fundamental system-wide reorganization taking into account current technological, economic and social factors. This is also the key to achieving other global goals, for example in climate policy. However, Watson anticipates massive opposition from status quo stakeholders. These urgently need to be overcome in order to open the way to a broader public good.

Further findings from the report

In addition to the drastic extinction of species, the report points to further serious changes in the ecosystem. For example:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions have doubled since 1980 and global average temperatures have risen by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius.
  • Three quarters of the land mass and two thirds of the marine environment have already been significantly changed by humans.
  • More than a third of the world's land surface and almost 75 percent of freshwater resources are currently used for crop or livestock production.
  • Resource mining has almost doubled since 1980.
  • The productivity of agricultural land has declined by 23 percent worldwide.
  • Up to 300 million people are currently at increased risk of flooding and cyclones due to the destruction of coastal habitats.
  • 33 percent of fish stocks are fished at an unsustainable level.
  • Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980.

Long-term study of bee death showed decline through pesticides

A long-term observation by the British Center for Ecology and Hydrology showed that the population of wild bees has been shrinking dramatically for years. One reason is the use of pesticides, such as those used in the cultivation of rapeseed. The bees that specialized in rapeseed had a decline of around 20 percent. More in this specialist article on bee death.

Author and source information

Video: Climate Change: Why are thousands of species facing extinction? - BBC News (August 2022).