Our impact on nature

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

12 May, 2019

4 thoughts on “Our impact on nature

  1. Thank you for taking the time to post such an important blog. I don’t think there has ever been a time in our history when we have been aware that we have such an impact on the planet, or when we were capable to doing something about it.

    I try to make a difference on a personal level and I know that collectively that is important, but as you say it is our governments who hold all the cards here. Through legislation and the tax regime they are the ones who can, overnight must change our impact for the better.

    Unfortunately, I fear that party politics driven by certain lobbies will continue to ignore the facts as we slide further and further towards the point of irrevocably harming the ecosystem and ourselves in the process.

    1. Your response says it all. Although we can personally make a difference all governments must collectively make a difference through legislation and the tax regime for there to be a positive difference and in the longer term.

      Since we all occupy the same eco-system, we will all be affected. Through climate change and we are seeing more of it now, we are changing and making our futures more uncertain.

      It is our children and their children that will suffer, if they get that far. We are killing the planet, animals are near to extinction in many cases because of how we live. We need to start being selfless and less selfish.

      We must think about how we live and start making changes before it’s too late. We cannot reverse that trend, but we can build on what we have now.

  2. Thank you Ilana. You’ve covered a great deal of ground in relatively few words, considering the depth of destruction that has occurred. It’s quite sad that we can’t trust ourselves to take care of our planet.

    I hope our planet will forgive us.

    1. Thanks Tim. The human condition has become a selfish one even if it wasn’t our intention to start out like that, but it is important that we pull bank from the brink of destroying the planet and ourselves in the process.

      We still have time to change and turn things around, but we must all work together to do it, led by individual governments.

      It has to be one selfless act. Not wanting to put too much a negative slant on this, but the planet won’t be around to care or forgive.

      We’re literally destroying the planet we live on.

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