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Extinction

"Pity the poor 107 million homo sapiens in the Philippines."

 

 

One million species of plants and animals are threatened with extinction, some within decades. They include 10 percent of insects, 35 percent of marine mammals, 33 percent of shark, shark relatives and reef-forming corals, 40 percent of all amphibians, and 1,000 more breeds of domestic mammals.

More than 85 percent of wetlands have been lost. Wetlands, says Wikipedia, play a number of functions, including water purification, water storage, processing of carbon and other nutrients, stabilization of shorelines, and support of plants and animals.

At least 680 vertebrate species have been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9 percent of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture have become extinct by 2016.

Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66 percent of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions.

So says the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which ended its five-day conference in Paris last May 4.

Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history—and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave effects on people around the world now likely, warns the landmark report of the IPBES.

Experts think over a fourth of all species are going to be extinct.

“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES chairman Sir Robert Watson.

“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,” he said.

The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive ever completed and assessed changes over the past 50 years.

It was compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, using about 15,000 scientific and government sources.

“Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Prof. Joseph Settele, co-chairman. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

According to scientists, the five direct drivers of change in nature with the largest relative global impact so far. These are, in descending order: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species.

Since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius—with climate change already affecting nature from the level of ecosystems to that of genetics—impact expected to increase over the coming decades, in some cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and other drivers.

Despite progress to conserve nature and implement policies, the report also finds that global goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors.

More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75 percent of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.

The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300 percent since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45 percent and approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and nonrenewable resources are now extracted globally every year—having nearly doubled since 1980.

About 93 percent of ocean fish is being harvested at above the level of sustainability or their being replaced by new stocks. In 2015, 33 percent of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60 percent were maximally sustainably fished, with just 7 percent harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished.

Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23 percent of the global land surface, up to $577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100 to 300-million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.

Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.

Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones,’ totaling more than 245,000 km2 (591-595)—a combined area greater than that of the United Kingdom.

Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond.

My regret

My only regret is that the one species that I wish were extinct, beginning yesterday, was that of the lazy, corrupt, incompetent and rapacious politician. Judging by the results of the May 13, 2019 Philippine elections and unrest in places like Venezuela and South Africa, the species has remained ascendant.

Pity the poor 107 million homo sapiens in the Philippines, one of the youngest and most resilient groups of humans on earth. They haven’t taken up arms against the elite and ruling class despite the rule and rapacity of the 100 families that have ruled the archipelago in the last 100 years.

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Topics: Tony Lopez , Extinction
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