Biodiversity at risk

AuthorPublished: 13th May 2019  12:19 amUpdated: 12th May 2019  9:28 pm

Over one million species are at the risk of extinction due to human tinkering with the nature. A latest United Nations report on global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem has painted a grim picture of the damages being caused by human activities like deforestation, pollution, overfishing and development. Based on a review of about 15,000 scientific and government sources and compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries, the global report is the first comprehensive look in 15 years at the state of the planet’s biodiversity. This report includes, for the first time, indigenous and local knowledge as well as scientific studies. The authors say they found overwhelming evidence that human activities are behind nature’s decline. The human activity has resulted in severe alteration of more than 75% of Earth’s land areas while 66% of the oceans have suffered significant human impacts. This includes more than 400 dead zones where scant life can survive. The new report, prepared by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity (IPBES), presents an ominous picture of the ecosystems that are rapidly deteriorating. Protecting nature and saving species is all about securing the land and water for the plants and animals to survive. Forests, oceans, and other parts of nature soak up 60% of global fossil fuel emissions every year, the report found. There is an urgent need to secure the biosphere to protect the climate and help buffer us from extreme weather events.

Coral reefs and mangroves protect coastal areas from storms such as hurricanes. Wetlands reduce flooding by absorbing heavy rainfall. Yet, each of these ecosystems has declined dramatically. The species of all kinds — mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, plants, marine life, terrestrial life — are disappearing at a rate “tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the last 10 million years” due to human activity. Changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change and pollution are among the factors responsible for biodiversity crisis. Earlier, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report said that the global wildlife population reduced by 60% between 1970 and 2014. Climate change and pollution have killed off half of the world’s shallow water coral reefs, which support more than a quarter of marine life. Even if humanity manages to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Centigrade – which many scientists doubt is possible – coral mortality will likely be 70 to 90%. There is a new sense of urgency for intensified and coordinated global efforts to stop this mindless degradation of the environment. Otherwise, we will go down as a generation that had a chance to halt the down slide but failed to act and let the Earth slip away. Clearly, the choice is now between existence and extinction.

 

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