Home Research One Million Species Are Reaching Extinction Because of Human Activities

One Million Species Are Reaching Extinction Because of Human Activities

Biodiversity losses and species extinction will become commonplace if transformative changes aren’t made globally

A report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has revealed that plant and animal species face extinction due to human activities. Analysis backed by the United Nations panel’s report has revealed that species extinction rates will continue to increase in subsequent years if action is not taken to conserve the natural habitats of these species.

Report on the state of the world’s ecosystems finds that species diversity are at a rapid decrease. Image source: Unsplash

The report has revealed that the loss of these millions of plant and animal species is as dangerous to life on earth as climate change is. The IPBES report revealed that one of the major human activities contributing to species extinction is agricultural activities.

According to Anne Larigauderie who is the executive secretary at IPBES, climate change would not be the only top topics of global agenda at the May 6 Paris press conference, biodiversity would also be a hot topic alongside climate.

“We can no longer say that we did not know”

The chief scientist at the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Gland, Switzerland, Thomas Brooks who assisted in editing the biodiversity analysis report hinted that world governments would be making a clear unified statement of the life on Earth crisis that humans are facing. In fact, Brooks said that the May 6 press conference would be a key novelty. However, the conference is no surprise, especially when the IPBES panel has revealed that major biodiversity losses will continue if transformative changes are not made.

The threats

According to the IPBES report, the production of food has led to 75% of land and 66% of ocean areas being altered by humans. As such, 33% of the Earth’s land surface and 75% of Earth’s freshwater resources are currently being used for crop and livestock operations.

Agricultural activities are also responsible for a large percentage of human greenhouse gas emission and roughly 25% of total emissions. This is due to the use of fertilizers and converting tropic forests and other earth land surface areas for agricultural activities like growing crops and raising livestock. Unfortunately, the human population keeps growing, causing agricultural threats to ecosystems to equally grow, according to the IPBES analysis.

Another big threat to biodiversity is the exploitation of both plant and animal resources through activities like hunting, fishing and logging, all of which lead to climate change, pollution, deforestation and the spread of invasive species.

The IPBES report also revealed a strong link between biodiversity losses and climate change where an increase in average global temperature higher than 4.3 0C would lead to a 16% species loss. All these possible losses to be suffered and the damage to ecosystems could undermine the efforts to reduce poverty and hunger, and promote sustainable development.

We can still pull back from the brink

The IPBES report revealed that the only way we can pull earth back from the brink is through proactive environmental policies, sustainable food and global united effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The report provided a detailed scientific analysis of the level of ecosystems damage humans have caused while altering Earth’s ecosystems. However, Peter Bridgewater, an ecologist at the University of Canberra, who led a separate analysis of the effectiveness of the IPBES panel, was of the opinion that panel should have outlined practical solutions for governments, businesses and communities. Bridgewater’s report recommended that IPBES develop a partnership with governments and global communities as well as assess policies to be implemented locally and globally.

Reference:

Tollefson, J. (2019). Humans are driving one million species to extinction. Nature. https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-019-01448-4

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