FunNature & AnimalIn the world there are a million species in...

In the world there are a million species in danger of extinction

It is not scaremongering, it is real and verified data. We are talking about the progress of the report of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) , an intergovernmental and independent body that many refer to as ‘the IPCC of biodiversity’, which since 2012 provides objective scientific assessments on the state of the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystem services and tools to protect natural resources.

Although the full report will be published later, IPBES has just released the summary with the preliminary results, which are devastating: around a million species on the planet are in danger of extinction and this decline will also have serious impacts. in the economy and in the ways of life of people all over the world.

“The evidence is overwhelming,” explained Robert Watson, president of IPBES. “The health of the ecosystems on which we and other species depend is deteriorating faster than ever. We are eroding the foundations of our own survival, compromising the economy, food security, health and quality of life ”.

The IPBES report reveals that the average abundance of native species in the main terrestrial habitats has decreased by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species are threatened, almost 33% of reefs coral and more than a third of marine mammals. As for the decline of insect species, although the rate is more unknown, the report warns that at least 10% would be threatened. A few months ago, in addition, a work was published in the journal Biological Conservation that warned that, at the current rate, insects could disappear within a century, with the corresponding collapse that this would mean for ecosystems.

Since the 16th century, at least 680 species of vertebrates have become extinct and in 2016 more than 9% of domesticated mammal breeds that were traditionally used in agriculture and livestock were considered missing.

“Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or disappearing,” explained Josef Settele, another of the participants in the work. ” The essential and interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and smaller. This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to well-being in all regions of the world,” he warns.

The causes, with names and surnames

Throughout the history of the Earth there have always been great mass extinctions due to natural causes. Species come and go, some disappear, others emerge and evolve. But human activity is accelerating extinction rates at an unprecedented rate. The IPBES work has developed a ranking, based on an exhaustive analysis of the available scientific evidence, of the five direct drivers of this impact. These are, in decreasing order:

  • Changes in land and sea uses
  • Overexploitation of organisms
  • Climate change
  • Contamination
  • Invasive alien species

Since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled and the average temperature has increased by at least 0.7 degrees. Climate change already affects nature at different levels and its impacts are expected to increase in the coming decades, even exceeding the damage caused by changes in land use.

The report provides other relevant data: urban areas have doubled since 1992 and since 1980, plastic pollution has increased tenfold, and an average of 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other waste of discharged annually in waters of the world.

Fertilizers from agriculture reaching coastal ecosystems have already produced 400 ‘dead zones’, which occupy an area larger than the surface of the UK. Land degradation has reduced global productivity by 23%, millions of crops are at risk from the loss of pollinators and more than a third of the world’s land area, and 75% of freshwater resources are now dedicated to agricultural and livestock production.


The role of local communities

For the first time, the report has taken into account the impacts produced by areas administered by indigenous peoples and local communities, and estimates that, although also negative, all these trends have been less severe in these areas.

It also warns that many of the regions of the world that will suffer the greatest negative impacts as a result of biodiversity loss are areas where indigenous peoples and some of the poorest communities in the world reside.

Experts suggest that policies take a more explicit consideration of the perspectives and rights of local communities. “The recognition of the knowledge and values of indigenous peoples and local communities and their inclusion and participation in environmental governance often improves their quality of life, as well as nature conservation, restoration and sustainable use,” he clarifies. The report. ” Their positive contributions to sustainability can be facilitated by national recognition of land tenure .”

Impact on human life

The fact that our activities are mainly responsible for the fact that a million species are in danger of extinction should already be a call that stirred consciences. But, if only for selfishness, the results of the report should worry everyone, since the consequences of the loss of biodiversity on our well-being are dire.

IPBES places great emphasis on ecosystem services, a concept that was coined to make visible all those benefits, sometimes not very tangible and without economic value, that ecosystems provide us and that derive from their own functioning. The list is endless, since ecosystems provide us with clean water and air, regulate the acidification of the oceans, make possible the pollination and dispersal of seeds in crops, defend us against natural disasters, give us energy, places of recreation and recreation, resources and raw materials, genetic resources, regulate the climate …

“Nature offers vital contributions to people, but ecosystem functions and services are deteriorating globally,” the report warns.


It is never too late if there is a will

Against this background, experts are also confident that we still have time to reverse the trend, something that is already demanded by thousands of citizens around the world and that is being shown by civil movements such as Extintion Rebellion , which has pushed the British Parliament to proclaim the state of ‘climate emergency’, or the actions of Fridays for Future promoted by the young activist Greta Thunberg.

“The report also tells us that it is not too late to act, but only if we start to act now and at all levels, from local to global,” Watson warned. “ Nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably, and this is also key to meeting most of the other global development goals. But a transformative change is needed, and by this we mean a total reorganization of the entire technological, economic and social system ”.

The experts also contribute their proposals for actions to achieve sustainability in critical sectors such as agriculture, forestry, marine and freshwater systems, urban areas, energy and even finance. And, as highlighted in the summary of the report, a key element to achieve more sustainable future policies involves the evolution of current financial systems towards a sustainable global economy. Are we ready to face the challenge?




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