humans are accelerating the extinction of over 1 million species, according to the UN
So that’s good news.
Photography Harley Weir
With Parliament recently passing a motion to declare a climate emergency in the UK, and with more of us than ever sitting up to take notice of the warnings of activist wunderkind Greta Thunberg and the School Strike For Climate movement she’s inspired, it seems our impending environmental apocalypse is getting the attention it needs. And it’s not coming a moment too soon.
A new report from the UN today added more grim news to the cacophony of environmental warnings that we should all be heeding. The findings, which are the result of over three years of UN research, pull no punches when it comes to outlining the devastating effect the human race is having on the planet’s natural resources. Specifically, it details how one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.
As population growth has increased over the past few decades, human’s need and appetite for food and energy has had a cataclysmic impact on everything from the bees that pollinate our crops to our forests, which have been decimated by loggers. Drawing on 15,000 references, the report, which has been compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, runs at 1,800 pages and shows how our world’s natural resources are declining at a speed never seen before.
And it is human action that has wrought such devastating damage to the planet. According to the UN’s report, 25% of the earth’s animals and plants are now threatened with impending extinction, as 100 million hectares of tropical forests were lost to agriculture, farming and deforestation. The report found that the amount of waste humans produce and discard is phenomenal. Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, while up to 400 million tonnes of waste are dumped into the world’s waters every year and the population of live coral reefs has diminished by half over the past 150 years.
The report doesn’t paint a pretty picture, and nor should it. It will take, according to the report, “transformative change” to halt the devastating impact that humans are currently having on the environment. Yesterday’s report points out that the ecosystem is at its worst state in human history. This means, on a global scale, we need to reduce our intake of meat and fish, and dramatically reduce the amount of waste we throw away. "We have documented a really unprecedented decline in biodiversity and nature, this is completely different than anything we've seen in human history in terms of the rate of decline and the scale of the threat," Dr Kate Brauman, from the University of Minnesota and a lead author of the assessment, said in a statement.
"When we laid it all out together I was just shocked to see how extreme the declines are in terms of species and in terms of the contributions that nature provides to people."
It’s time that we put the climate crisis into the spotlight. We’re petitioning the UK government to commit to a yearly National Climate Day, and with your help it can become a reality.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.