© Can Stock Photo / surachetsh

A million species at risk of extinction world-wide, says report

The United Nations’ most comprehensive report on biodiversity to date warns one million species are now at risk of extinction, and the rate is accelerating.

The full report will be published later this year, but a summary was released Monday in Paris at a meeting of conservation scientists.

About 145 experts from 50 countries have been working on the report over the past three years, studying the human impact on global biodiversity.

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health, and quality of life worldwide,” said Sir Robert Watson, chair of Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services or IPBES.

It echoes what other reports in recent years have suggested, that wildlife populations are falling by alarming rates.

Related story: WWF report paints a bleak picture of biodiversity

The summary of the report said, “the average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20 per cent, mostly since 1900. More than 40 per cent of amphibian species, almost 33 per cent of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened.

© Can Stock Photo / roboriginal

© Can Stock Photo / roboriginal

“The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of more than 10 per cent being threatened,” it read. “More than nine per cent of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.”

The drivers are changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution, and invasive alien species.

Since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled raising the global temperatures by at least 0.7 C. Urban areas have doubled since 1992. Plastic pollution has increased ten-fold since 1980. In 2015, a third of fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels.

While the report acknowledges conservation efforts have progressed, it also said humans are not doing enough.

“A key element of more sustainable future policies is the evolution of global financial and economic systems to build a global sustainable economy, steering away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth,” said the summary.

It also said it is not too late to fix the problem.

“The member States of IPBES Plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good,” said Watson.