It’s doomsday for 200 species everyday:
UN Environment Programme: 200 Species Extinct Every Day, Unlike Anything Since Dinosaurs Disappeared 65 Million Years Ago
According to the UN Environment Programme, the Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction of life. Scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every 24 hours. This is nearly 1,000 times the “natural” or “background” rate and, say many biologists, is greater than anything the world has experienced since the vanishing of the dinosaurs nearly 65m years ago. Around 15% of mammal species and 11% of bird species are classified as threatened with extinction.
Djoghlaf warned Britain and other countries not to cut nature protection in the recession. In a reference to expected 40% cuts to Britain’s department of the environment spending, he said: “It would be very short-sighted to cut biodiversity spending. You may well save a few pounds now but you will lose billions later. Biodiversity is your natural asset. The more you lose it, the more you lose your cultural assets too.”
He urged governments to invest in nature. “If you do not, you will pay very heavily later. You will be out of business if you miss the green train.”
Mounting losses of ecosystems, species and genetic biodiversity is now threatening all life, said Djoghlaf. In immediate danger, he said, were the 300 million people who depended on forests and the more than 1 billion who lived off sea fishing.
Species Extinction Happening 1,000 Times Faster Because of Humans?
Applying the same statistical approach to extinction data revealed a rate of 100 to 1,000 species lost per million per year, mostly due to human-caused habitat destruction and climate change. (See: “7 Species Hit Hard by Climate Change—Including One That’s Already Extinct.”)
To calculate the rate of extinction before modern humans evolved, about 200,000 years ago, Pimm and his colleagues reviewed data from fossil records and noted when species disappeared, then used statistical modeling to fill in holes in the record. That analysis revealed that before humans evolved, less than a single species per million went extinct annually.
The study authors suspect that the extinction rate will only increase if trends continue—possibly resulting in what scientists call the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history. (Related: “The Sixth Extinction: A Conversation With Elizabeth Kolbert.”)
It is a shame that the UN is not extinct.