The Looming Threat of Biodiversity Loss

| 6/18/2010 2:04:32 PM

Tags: biodiversity, UN, species extinction,

Though the world hoped that 2010 (International Year of Biodiversity) would mark a reversal — if not, at least, a decline — in rainforest2a frightening trend of biodiversity loss, a UN report shows the opposite. The UN’s third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook calls for “swift, radical and creative action” to correct the grave downward spikes in the disappearance of Earth’s ecosystems, contending that “economies, lives, and livelihoods” all depend on our ability to reverse these high rates of plant and wildlife extinction and endangerment.

The Convention for Wildlife Biodiversity confirmed that nations met none of the 21 targets to improve biodiversity by 2010 (though some targets were achieved locally or on a smaller scale).

Unless humans fundamentally examine and overhaul the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, including consumerism, urban sprawl, pollution and resource exploitation, the Global Biodiversity Outlook warns that several ecosystems may soon approach “tipping points,” which will drastically affect human livelihoods and economies.  An EU press release estimated the value of goods and services supplied by ecosystems at more than $31 trillion a year  twice the value of what humans produce each year.

Threatened Species and Ecosystems 

Particularly threatened ecosystems could lead to even more extreme biodiversity loss and will function much less productively if severely harmed. If climate change, deforestation and fires keep chipping away at the Amazon forests, serious consequences will arise for the global climate, regional rainfall and mass species extinction. Freshwater lakes with algae buildup endanger fish diversity and recreational loss. And the possible collapse of the coral reef from ocean acidification, warmer water (leading to bleaching), overfishing and pollution translates into the demise of thousands of dependent species. Add on top of this the fact that deforestation accounts for one fourth of greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming. And the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 70 percent of all fish species, which provide the only source of protein for more than 200 million people worldwide, are either fully exploited or depleted.

The abundance of vertrainforest4ebrate species fell by a third between 1970 and 2006, and at least 60 livestock species have become extinct. This depletion will inevitably rise unless we actively protect our richest land space, and despite an increase in land protection, 82 percent of ocean eco-regions and 44 percent of terrestrial eco-regions do not meet the benchmark of 10-percent protection.

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