1 million species risk extinction due to humans: Draft UN report

According to draft of UN report set to be released on May 6, 2019, up to One million world species are at risk of extinction due to human activity.  It highlights how humanity has undermined natural resources upon which its very survival depends.

This 44-page draft report which has summarized 1,800-page assessment of scientific literature on the state of Nature conducted by the UN  will be examined  on 29 April, 2019 by 130 nations that will meet in Paris, France.

Key Findings of Report

  • Extinction: It warns of forthcoming rapid acceleration in global rate of species extinction. With upto 1 million species at extinction risk, and one fourth of known plant and animal species already threatened, loss of species is tens to hundreds of times higher than it was, on average, over last 10 million years.
  • Causes: Direct cause of species loss are continuously shrinking habitat and land-use change, hunting for food, illegal trade in wildlife body parts, climate change and pollution.
  • Impact on Ecosystem: Almost three-fourth of land, half of marine environments and half of inland waterways have been ‘severely’ changed by human activity.
  • This is mainly due to human activities, like overconsumption, illegal poaching, deforestation and fossil fuel emissions, which further push ecosystems toward a point of no return.
  • Impact of Humans: Such depletion will harm humans, especially indigenous vulnerable groups and those living in poorest communities.
  • Threat equivalent to climate change: The accelerating loss of clean air, drinkable water, forests, pollinating insects, protein-rich fish and storm-blocking mangroves are a few of diminishing services offered by Nature, which poses threat not less than that by climate change.
  • Dependence on Nature: More than 2 billion people rely on wood fuel for energy, 4 billion rely on natural medicines, and 75% of global food crops require animal pollination.
  • It cautions against climate change solutions that may accidentally harm nature. Example-Biofuels use combined with “carbon capture and storage” (i.e. sequestration of CO2 released when biofuels are burned) is a key in transition to green energy on a global scale. But land needed for growing biofuel crops may lead to cutting into food production, expansion of protected areas or reforestation efforts.

Way Forward

We need to recognise that climate change and loss of Nature are equally important, not just for environment, but also for development and economic issues. Unsustainable methods used for our food and energy production undermines regulating services we get from Nature, therefore only “transformative change” can stem the damage.

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