U.N. Report Warns A Million Species Are At Risk Of Extinction, Many Of Them In The Arab World
By Muhammed Aladdin
On Monday, an extensive 1,500-page U.N. report revealed that if humanity does not change its ways, one million animal and plant species will be at imminent risk of extinction. Described to be the most comprehensive report of its type ever undertaken, the biodiversity was put forth by 145 scientists from 50 countries compiled over three years.
According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the global rate of species’ extinction is tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last ten million years. The findings made it clear that our impact has caused an irreversible change to different ecosystems across the land and seas.
The report has found that human activities such as industrial farming and fishing were the main drivers of the upcoming crisis while climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels is exacerbating the situation. Furthermore, there were more indirect reasons, including population growth, rising consumption, technology, and governance.
In nature, extinction is a normal phenomenon; some species find it difficult to adapt to changing environmental conditions. However, unlike the ongoing extinction event, it happens at a much longer geographical timespan; it could take millions of years for one species to go extinct. Concurrently, a different organism fills the now empty niche in order to keep the balance of the ecosystem. Because it is based on human impact, the current extinction event wipes out so many species at a very high rate that it throws viable, long-established ecosystems out of equilibrium.
The threatened list includes more than 40% of the world’s amphibian species, almost 33% of coral reefs, and more than a third of marine mammals. There are estimates that 10% of all insect species are to be lost as well.
Here in the Arab world, 71 mammalian, 78 bird, 40 reptiles, 59 amphibian, and 107 fish species are critically endangered. In addition to numerous insects, worms, crustaceans, snails, jellyfish, and plants. Some of these species are found nowhere else around the world, including, the slender-horned gazelle, Egyptian vulture, dugong, striped hyena, Kurdish newt, and many more.
Inadvertently, humans are fueling their own extinction, because, like all things in nature, humanity is a single link that is highly dependent on other elements of the biome to sustain. If indeed, one million of the earth’s eight million species goes extinct, it is only logical that we are to follow.
Scientists have made an impassioned plea to governments and businesses all over the world to act in order to avert the crisis. According to the report, If humanity keeps its current trajectory, it would be impossible to achieve global environmental targets. The only way we could prevent this from happening would be to fundamentally transform our economic, social, political, and technological systems.
The report was released only six months after the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that humankind had less than 12 years to act before the consequences of climate change become irreversible.
“If we want to leave a world, for our children and grandchildren, that has not been destroyed by human activity, we need to act now,” said Robert Watson, who chaired the study produced by IPES.