The conclusions of UN’s landmark global biodiversity assessment report AKA “the most thorough planetary health check” are out and they’re not looking good.
The sixth mass extinction
The report, from UN’s expert nature panel IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), was prepared by nearly 500 scientists who analyzed around 15,000 academic studies over three years.
Below are some of the depressing stats it shared:
- Up to 1 million species of land and marine life face extinction
- Around 25% of animal and plant species are threatened
- Nearly half the live coral cover on coral reefs has been lost since the 1870s
- The biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82%
Basically, we’re heading into the sixth mass extinction and we have only ourselves to blame.
What have we done to the world?
We reproduced (population has doubled since 1970), bulldozed out the forests and stole land from animals, consumed and threw away things, and dug up and burned fossils all without giving a single fuck about nature.
Below are some of the awful things we did and how they’re affecting us:
- About half of natural ecosystem areas are gone
- From 2001 to 2013, the area of intact forest fell by 7%, bigger than France and the UK combined
- Urban areas have more than doubled in size since 1992, and 100 million hectares of tropical forest were lost from 1980 to 2000
- Over 85% of wetlands area is gone
- in 2018 alone, around 12 million hectares of tropical forests were lost, equivalent to 30 football fields per minute
- More than 80% of wastewater is pumped into streams, lakes, and oceans untreated
- Plastic waste has risen 10 times since 1980
- Worldwide, there are around 2,500 conflicts over fossil fuels, water, food, and land today
- The global avg sea level has risen by 6 ~ 8 inches since 1900.
- Up to $577 billion of crop output is at risk from pollinator loss
- Global land productivity went down 23% from land degradation
We need better governance and policies
The authors of the report say the decline of nature is likely to continue for at least 50 years. However, they added that it can largely still be turned around if govts, businesses and individuals committed to working together urgently.
Kai Chan, professor at the U of British Columbia and global assessment lead author said that “governments must get serious about reining in the power of business to regulate itself” and that right now “few governments fully understand the magnitude of the problems we face. Most deny the reality of the existential threat we face.”