Monday, 20 May 2019

Nature's emergency: Where we are in five graphics

By Helen Briggs, Becky Dale and Nassos Stylianou BBC News
5 May 2019
The felling of forests, the plundering of seas and soils, and the pollution of air and water are together pushing the natural world to the brink.
That's the warning more than 500 experts in 50 countries are expected to give in a major UN-backed report, due to be published on Monday.
The assessment will highlight the losses that have hit the natural world over the past 50 years and how the future is looking bleak for tens to hundreds of thousands of species.
The document, from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), is also expected to set out an urgent rescue plan for nature.
So what do we know about the health of the planet in terms of biodiversity (the variety of living things on Earth and the ecosystems they belong to)?
1. The world's biodiversity is vanishing fast
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is a critical measure of our impact on nature.
Almost 100,000 species have been assessed so far for this inventory of endangered species. Of these, more than a quarter are threatened with extinction, ranging from Madagascar's lemurs to amphibians like frogs and salamanders, and plants such as conifers and orchids.
The assessments aren't yet complete, and we don't even know exactly how many animals, fungi and plants are on the planet. Estimates range from about two million species to approximately one trillion, but most experts go for around 11 million species or fewer.
Scientists believe the Earth is being driven towards a "mass extinction event" - only the sixth in the last half-billion years.
"There is now overwhelming evidence that we are losing the planet's species at an alarming speed," Prof Alexandre Antonelli, the director of science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, told BBC News.
The last time we had a similar situation was about 66 million years ago, which was caused by an asteroid hitting Earth, he said, though this time, "humans are the ones to blame".
Current extinction rates are about 1,000 times higher than before humans came along, and future rates are likely to about 10,000 times higher, according to estimates.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails