The world is currently undergoing a major species extinction crisis. The risk of extinction has increased like never before. An international panel recently released a report revealing that one million species are at risk for extinction due to human activities. The panel, the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), consists of 145 experts from 50 countries around the world.
Human Factors Behind Species Loss
Species loss is driven by human actions. Pollution, climate change, and development are destroying the habitats that many creatures call home. According to Sandra Diaz, one of the experts who co-authored the report, “[There is] very little of the planet left that has not been significantly altered by us.”
The crisis has only escalated in recent years. Since 1980, the rate of plastic pollution in our bodies of water has increased tenfold. Now an average of 300-400 million tons of waste find their way into the world’s waters each year.
Pollution is destroying our oceans’ ecosystems by creating more than 400 “dead zones,” or areas that are so deprived of oxygen that they can hardly support any forms of marine life. They now total an area that is larger than the United Kingdom!
Humans haven’t just contaminated the world’s oceans. They have also altered more than three quarters of the Earth’s land. One factor is population growth. Over the last fifty years, the world’s population has more than doubled. Now the gross domestic product per person is four times higher. Global warming has a toll on half of the world’s threatened mammals and a quarter of its birds.
Invasive species are another problem. Humans have both accidentally and purposefully introduced non-native species to foreign regions. The number of these species has risen by nearly 70% in the last three decades.
How Can You Help
Humans are the root of the problem. This means that they are also the only possible solution. It isn’t too late to save the world’s species, but it will require immediate action. We’ll have to make changes on every level, from local to international. Failure to act now would mean the end for a million endangered species.
The agriculture industry will need to increase sustainability by simultaneously planting crops and supporting the species that live in the area. Businesses will also have to reform supply chains. People everywhere will need to reduce their food waste. This can start on a household level!
People will need to reduce the pollution that runs off into bodies of water to help save marine life. International experts also recommend implementing fishing quotas and setting up protected areas.
The world is losing one million of its eight million species. We need to take immediate action to stop this from happening! To help, begin by reducing your food waste and plastic usage. When electing leaders, vote for people who share your goal of helping protect our planet.