Nature crisis: Humans ‘threaten 1m species with extinction’

In a convincing report from the UN, on earth, in the seas, in the sky, the devastating impact of humans on nature.

A million animal and plant species are now in danger of extinction.

Nature everywhere is decreasing at a speed never before seen and our need for more food and energy are the main drivers.

The study points out that these trends can be stopped, but a “transformative change” will be required in every aspect of how humans interact with nature.

From the bees that pollinate our crops to the forests that hold flood waters, the report reveals how humans are devastating the ecosystems that sustain their societies.

In its three years of development, this global assessment of nature is based on 15,000 reference materials, and has been compiled by the Intergovernmental Platform on Science and Policy on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). It runs 1,800 pages.

The brief 40-page summary for politicians, published today at a meeting in Paris, is perhaps the most powerful indictment of how humans have treated their only home.

He says that although the Earth has always suffered the actions of humans throughout history, in the last 50 years, these scratches have become deep scars.

The world population has doubled since 1970, the world economy has quadrupled, while international trade has multiplied by 10.

To feed, clothe and energize this expanding world, forests have been cut down at staggering 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 Southeast Asia.

Wetlands are worse than wetlands, with only 13% of those present in 1700 that still exist in the year 2000.

Our cities have expanded rapidly, with urban areas that have doubled since 1992.

All this human activity is killing species in greater numbers than ever.

According to the global assessment, an average of around 25% of animals and plants are now threatened.

Global trends in insect populations are not known, but rapid reductions in some places have also been well documented.

All this suggests that about one million species now face extinction in decades, a destruction rate tens to hundreds of times higher than the average of the last 10 million years.

“We have documented a truly unprecedented decrease in biodiversity and nature, this is completely different from everything we have seen in human history in terms of the rate of decline and the magnitude of the threat,” said Dr. Kate Brauman. , from the University of Minnesota and an author coordinator of the evaluation.

“When we put it all together, I was surprised to see how extreme the declines are in terms of species and in terms of the contributions that nature is providing to people.”

The evaluation also finds that the soils are degrading as never before. This has reduced the productivity of 23% of Earth’s land surface.

Our insatiable appetites are producing a mountain of waste.

Plastic pollution has multiplied tenfold since 1980.

Every year we discharge 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes into the world’s waters.

The authors of the report say that there are a number of direct factors from which the change in land use is the main one.

Basically, this means replacing pastures with intensive crops, or replacing old forests with a plantation forest, or clearing forests for cultivation. This is happening in many parts of the world, especially in the tropics.

Since 1980, more than half of the increase in agriculture has been at the expense of intact forests.

It’s a similar story at sea.

Only 3% of the world’s oceans were described as free of human pressure in 2014.

Fish are being exploited as never before, with 33% of the fish stocks caught at unsustainable levels in 2015.

Coverage of live coral on reefs has been reduced by almost half in the last 150 years.

However, pushing all this forward, there is a greater demand for food from a growing global population and, specifically, our growing appetite for meat and fish.


“The use of land now appears as the main driver of the collapse of biodiversity, with 70% of agriculture related to meat production,” said Yann Laurans of IDDRI, the French policy research institute.

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