Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Five ways to stop mass extinction

Humans depend utterly on nature for our survival and yet so many of our actions abuse this relationship, threatening species including our own. Act now and we may stop the rot


theguardian.com, Tuesday 16 December 2014 14.18 GMT

The august journal Nature recently published Life – a status report. It is a graphic portrayal of the vast number of species disappearing from the planet; a difficult calculation, as scientists don’t know how many species there are, with estimates ranging from two to 50 million. But for those species we know about, the picture is grim. Globally, 41% of amphibian species are facing extinction; 13% of all birds are at risk; as are 22% of flowering plants.

The reasons behind this potential mass extinction are manifold, but all stem from human activity. Humans are “the ultimate invasive species” having spread from Africa to every corner of the planet (and beyond) in 100,000 years. In doing so, we have removed the habitats of other species, or affected them by moving other invasive species around, causing pollution and driving climate change. We do so at our peril, because humans depend on nature utterly for our survival.

If it is possible to stop this mass extinction, humans need to take rapid and radical action.

Here are five actions that I think will be needed:
1. Give places back to nature

Some 3% of the oceans and 15% of land are classified as “protected areas”. In practice, many of these offer no protection to nature – more protected areas are needed, and they must be properly protected.

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