Energy & Environment

UN: 1 million species threatened with extinction by humans

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As many as 1 million species of plants and animals face extinction, with human activity contributing to the threats to nature, according to a United Nations report released Monday.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released its first comprehensive report on biodiversity, which found species loss is rapidly increasing, but that it is not too late to make meaningful changes to address the problem.

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” said Robert Watson, a British chemist who chaired the U.N. panel.{mosads}

“The report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global,” Watson added.

He said it would require “transformative change” to conserve and restore natural habitats, including shifting economic patterns, social habits and other factors.

The report cited five specific ways humans are contributing to habitat loss and threatening some species with extinction. It notes that humans are developing forests, overfishing in the oceans, polluting land and water, contributing to climate change with the use of fossil fuels and allowing invasive species to threaten native plants and animals.

The report does not give a specific timeline for when certain species may go extinct, other than to say within “decades.”

Monday’s report is the latest from the U.N. to raise concerns about the fate of the environment. The organization in March issued its sixth Global Environment Outlook, which projected that air pollution and other environmental consequences could lead to the premature deaths of millions of people over the next few decades. 

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