One million wiped from the face of the earth

Chasing on the heels of the IPCC report that we have a mere 12 years left to turn back the clock on climate change, there is now a new report that again beats the drum in world leader’s ears that the time for action is now.

The UN committee the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) met to disclose the findings of 145 experts from 50 countries, and the results were dire news for the planet.

Our beautiful earth is home to 8 million
different species. Due to exponential population growth and humanity’s need for greed, a massive one million species are now threatened with extinction.

Climate change and pollution are just one factor threatening our wildlife – shrinking habitats and exploitation of natural resources are also to blame.

These two are married together when one thinks of the Oran-utans and palm oil production. Palm oil is in nearly 50% of packaged products, from cakes and biscuits through to shampoo and toothpaste.

It is also the main cause of deforestation in African and Asian countries, where forests are home to thousands, if not a million, different species that each rely on specific eco-systems to survive.

And let’s not even go into the child labour, poor working conditions and even murders that occur in this industry where humans are forced from their homes the same as the animals. But I digress. If we look to the oceans, the report states that more than a third of all marine animals are threatened with extinction.

Plastic pollution has a great part to play in this, with sea creatures not only getting caught and drowning in the waste, but also ingesting it.

If the poor thing doesn’t die from that, it will get eaten by a bigger fish in the pond which will die from the entanglement inside or through being poisoned by the chemicals.

Then of course there’s rising sea temperatures and levels of water. If this happens over thousands of years, the creatures may have had time to evolve to survive.
But 75% of the land and 66% of marine
eco-systems have been altered by human action since pre-industrial times.

In 2015, one third of marine stock was being fished at unsustainable levels and the methods used damaged the delicate balance in the ocean.

Rising sea levels and the subsequent habitat loss has seen the world’s first mammal to become extinct due to ‘human-induced climate change’. The Bramble Cay melomys is a small brown rat which lived on an island on the Great Barrier Reef. It doesn’t anymore.

Guenter Mitlacher, director of international biodiversity policy at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said, “Ours is the first generation with the tools to see how the Earth has been changed by people at our own peril. We’re also the last generation with the opportunity to influence the course of many of those changes. Now is the time to act, not halfheartedly and incrementally but drastically and boldly.”

Laura White

Author: Laura White

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