Another back to back blog, this time addressing the devastating impact of humans on nature. A global report by the United Nations this week, states that one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction through the actions of humans.
The report is the result of assessment of 15,000 reference materials, and has been compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
- The 40-page summary document is a sad but powerful indictment of how humans have treated the planet. The report says that while the Earth has always suffered from the actions of humans, over the past 50 years, the damage caused has dramatically increased;
- The world’s population has doubled since 1970, the global economy has grown four-fold, while international trade has increased 10 times over;
- To feed, clothe and provide enough energy to the world, forests have been cleared at astonishing rates, especially in tropical areas. Between 1980 and 2000, 100 million hectares of tropical forest were lost, mainly from cattle ranching in South America and palm oil plantations in South East Asia;
- Even worse than forests are the impact on wetlands, with only 13% of those present in 1700 still in existence in the year 2000;
- Our cities have expanded rapidly, with urban areas doubling since 1992.
All this human activity is killing species in greater numbers than ever before. According to the assessment, an average of around 25% of animals and plants are now threatened.
All this suggests around a million species now face extinction within decades, a rate of destruction tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10 million years. The assessment also finds that soils are being degraded as never before. This has reduced the productivity of 23% of the land surface of the Earth.
Our insatiable appetites are producing a mountain of waste. Plastic pollution has increased ten-fold since 1980. Every year we dump 300-400 million tonnes of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes into the sea.
Only 3% of the world’s oceans were described as free from human pressure in 2014. Fish are being exploited as never before, with many fish species in dramatic decline through over-fishing. 33% of fish stocks were harvested at unsustainable levels in 2015 and live coral cover on reefs has nearly halved over the past 150 years.
The other key factors are the hunting and the direct exploitation of animals, climate change, pollution and invasive species. The following facts make for worrying reading;
- Species extinction risk: Approximately 25% of all species are already threatened with extinction in most animal and plant groups studied;
- Natural ecosystems: Natural ecosystems have declined by almost half with major implications for human beings;
- Biomass and species abundance: The number of wild mammals has fallen by 82%;
- Nature for indigenous people: 72% of indicators developed by local communities show ongoing deterioration of elements of nature important to them.
The authors looked at a number of scenarios for the future, including ‘business as usual,’ but also examining options that were more based on sustainable practices. In almost all cases, the negative trends for ecological disaster will continue to 2050 and beyond without massive intervention by governments for a more sustainable, global impact on the planet.
This is not something we can ignore. We are to blame for one million animal and plant species being under threat with extinction through the actions of humans and we need to put it right.
It is important we have intervention by governments for a more sustainable, global impact on the planet, so that we limit its effect.
What we need to be doing is co-occupy the planet with the planet’s natural ecosystem so that we are an integral part of the ecosystem and not do whatever we want with it.
Source: https://www. bbc.co.uk