UN: Up To 1 Million Plant And Animal Species Are On The Verge Of Extinction

Emperor penguins are now an endangered species.Pixabay / Public Domain

The loss of biodiversity endangers human welfare.

According to the United Nations, up to 1 million plant and animal species are now on the verge of extinction. The Washington Post reported that this could have enormous and destructive implications for the survival of humans. The report emphasizes that human activity continues to degrade the environment and threaten the existence of various living things.

The report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services links the loss of biodiversity to humans and scrutinizes the effect on food and water security, farming, and economies.

The current rate of decline in nature is absolutely unparalleled, which “means grave impacts on people around the world are now likely.” The panel’s chairman, Robert Watson, said that the decline in biodiversity is corroding “the foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

Climate change caused by humans, overfishing, and enormous pesticide use and urban expansion are worsening the situation drastically.

“The most important thing isn’t necessarily that we’re losing . . . 1 million species — although that’s important, don’t misunderstand me,” Watson said on Sunday. “The bigger issue is the way it will affect human well-being, as we’ve said many times — food, water, energy, human health.

“We care about nature but we care about human well-being,” Watson said. “We need to link it to human well-being, that’s the crucial thing. Otherwise we’re going to look like a bunch of tree-huggers.”

On a more positive note, the report claimed that “it is not too late to make a difference.” But making a difference requires the combined action of over 100 developing and undeveloped nations.

“Let’s be quite candid,” Watson said. “Since 1992, we’ve been telling the world we have a problem. Now what’s different? It’s much worse today than it was in 1992. We’ve wasted all of the time . . . the last 25 years.” However, he said, “we have a much better understanding of the links between climate change, biodiversity, and food security and water security.”

Almost 150 authors who come from 50 nations worked on the report for three years. They point out that the population has doubled since 1950 and since 1992, urban areas have doubled. This has resulted in enormous pressure on natural resources.

On land, “more than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75 percent of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production,” the report said. The report also pointed out that at sea, in 2015 a third of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels.

Andrew Wetzler, managing director of the nature program for the Natural Resources Defense Council says that the report “means that nature is collapsing around us, and it’s a real wake-up call to humanity.”

Read the full story here.