Every eighth animal and plant species could already disappear “in the coming decades,” says the UN’s World Biodiversity Council. The world community must urgently turn away from the goal of economic growth.
Humanity makes nature, according to a comprehensive report, disappear from the earth at breakneck speed. There is now overwhelming evidence that drew a sinister image, warned the Chairman of the World Biodiversity Council (IPBES), Robert Watson, on Monday.
“We are globally eroding the very roots of our economies, livelihoods, food security and quality of life,” Watson said. The global community must urgently turn away from economic growth as a central goal to more sustainable systems, it said.
In its first global report on the state of biodiversity, the United Nations agency puts together scary facts: out of an estimated eight million animal and plant species worldwide, around one million are at risk of extinction. The extent of species extinction has never been as great in human history as it is today – and the rate of extinction continues to grow. Three-quarters of the natural areas on the continents have already been significantly modified by humans, two-thirds in the seas.
Time and again, the authors point out that the loss of biodiversity is not a purely environmental issue, but also influences development, the economy, political stability and social aspects such as refugee flows. Serious consequences for people worldwide are now likely, they warn. However, it is not too late for countermeasures, Watson explained, “but only if we start immediately at all local to global levels”. It requires fundamental changes in technologies, economics, and society, including paradigms, goals, and values.
“Biodiversity and the natural gifts of man are our common heritage and the most important safety net for the survival of humanity,” explained Argentine Sandra Díaz. However, this network is now burdened almost to rupture. Diaz, an ecologist at the National University of Cordoba is the lead author of the IPBES report alongside Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Halle and the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Brondízio.
In most of the habitats in the countryside, the number of naturally occurring species has dwindled on average by at least 20 percent, mostly since 1900, is another of the key messages of the report. More than 40 percent of amphibian species, nearly 33 percent of reef-building corals and more than a third of all marine mammal species are threatened. Livestock, too, is dwindling: More than nine percent of the mammalian breeds domesticated for use as meat suppliers or workhorses will be extinct by 2016.