Friday, May 25, 2012

Risk of extinction

One-third of Earth's plants and animals now at risk of extinction

(NaturalNews) A third of all plants and animals on Earth are now at risk of going extinct, according to the most recent edition of the United Nations' Global Biodiversity Outlook.

The species now threatened with extinction include 21 percent of known mammals, 30 percent of amphibians and 35 percent of invertebrates.

"The magnitude of the damage [to ecosystems] is much bigger than previously thought," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, head of the Convention on Biological Diversity. "The rate of extinction is currently running at 1,000 times thenaturalhistorical background rate ofextinction."

The report blames the spread of Western consumerism and the attendant resource exploitation and pollution for much of the problem.

"It's a problem if we continue this unsustainable pattern of production and consumption," Djoghlaf said. "If the nine billion people predicted to be with us by 2050 were to have the same lifestyle as Americans, we would need five planets."

According to the report, the planet is nearing three tipping points beyond which crucialecosystemssupporting the climate,foodchain and overall biosphere will be damaged beyond repair: destruction of the Amazon rainforest, algae contamination of freshwater and coral reef collapse. Crossing these tipping points would cause drastic climate destabilization and species loss, and is likely to affect people's professional livelihoods and access to food and water.

Thebiodiversityoutlook was based partly on national reports assessing the progress of 110 countries toward biodiversity protection goals committed to in 2002.

"There is not a single country in the world that has achieved these targets; we continue to lose biodiversity at unprecedented rate," Djoghlaf said.

Adam Steiner, director general of the U.N. Environment Program, warned that a biodiverse planet is critical to maintaining human life and health across the world.

"Humanity has fabricated the illusion that somehow we can get by without biodiversity or that it is somehow peripheral to the contemporary world," he said.

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