One Million Species are in Danger of Extinction: UN Report

The United Nations has released an alarming new report draft that was obtained by AFP, outlining the costly impacts of humanity’s treatment of the environment with up to one million animal species facing possible extinction.

The report states how the accelerated loss of clean air, access to drinkable water, CO2 absorbing forests, pollinating insects, protein-rich fish, storm blocking mangroves and multiple other key environmental elements should be held at the same threat level as climate change.

The 44-page summary for policymakers, distilling the 1,800-page UN assessment of scientific literature on the state of nature weighs heavily on the link between biodiversity loss and global warming.

Dignitaries from 130 nations will meet in Paris next week to vet the executive summary line by line. Wording may change, but numbers and figures cannot be altered.

'We need to recognise that climate change and loss of Nature are equally important, not just for the environment, but as development and economic issues as well,' Robert Watson, chair of the UN-mandated body that compiled the report, told AFP, without divulging its findings.

'The way we produce our food and energy is undermining the regulating services that we get from Nature,' he said, adding that only 'transformative change' can halter the damage.

Deforestation and agricultural activities have been stated to account for around a quarter of the total global greenhouse emissions, the report revealing that three-quarters of land surfaces have been severely altered by humanity.

Paired with the report, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPDES) warns that an “imminent rapid acceleration in the global rate of species extinction” could be coming soon.

Some of the key findings, according to France 24 include:

- Three-quarters of land surfaces - 40 percent of the marine environment - and 50 percent of inland waterways across the globe have been "severely altered".

- Many of the areas where Nature's contribution to human wellbeing will be most severely compromised are home to indigenous peoples and the world's poorest communities that are also vulnerable to climate change.

- More than two billion people rely on wood fuel for energy, four billion rely on natural medicines, and more than 75 percent of global food crops require animal pollination.

- Nearly half of land and marine ecosystems have been profoundly compromised by human interference in the last 50 years.

- Subsidies to fisheries, industrial agriculture, livestock raising, forestry, mining and the production of biofuel or fossil fuel energy encourage waste, inefficiency and over-consumption.

IPDES says that the pace of loss “is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years”, with many experts adding to this information, speculating that the next ‘Mass Extinction Event’, what could be the sixth in the last half-billion years, is already underway.

Global awareness for environmental sustainability has grown in the last half decade with protests occurring around the world every day, pushing governments to be harder on climate change and force a move towards renewable energy and sustainable practices.

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