The 21st Century – A Mass Extinction Event

By | May 9th, 2010|Animal News Stories, Main Page|0 Comments

United Nations Report set to Declare that 30% of all Fauna and Flora Faces Extinction

The economic expansion of countries such as China and India, with the Western World’s inability to deal effectively with environmental threats could lead to the extinction of a third of all the plant’s species before the end of this Century.

That is one of the conclusions of a United Nations report due to be published next week.  It focuses on the huge growth in the human population and consumption and provides a stark warning about the future diversity of life on Earth.  The report will link economic growth and extinction rates and provide one of the most critical evaluations on the current state of humanity and our relationship with the natural world.

2009 has been designated the International Year of Biodiversity, a number of events and activities are being held world wide to highlight the rich and varied ecosystems of our planet, this new report paints a very different picture regarding the state of the natural world.

This new United Nations sponsored report uses research from 120 countries and it will show that no country has succeeded in halting the loss of biodiversity and that 89% of those countries that had submitted data identified climate change as a cause for the extinctions.

Ahmed Djoghlaf, the UN’s leading figure on biological diversification states:

“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.”

The UN report will attract a great deal of debate, but many countries will be reluctant to take action as they will be unwilling to fore go economic growth for the sake of the natural world.  The extinction threat extends across all the main ecosystems of the planet, from rain forests to coral reefs, species as different as tree frogs, large mammals, tuna and river dolphins face extinction.

River dolphins and other large freshwater animals are particularly threatened.  It is not just climate change but loss of habitat and also pollution that is causing their demise.  The Yangtze river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer), fore example is believed to virtually extinct.  No specimens were recorded in a six week survey of the Yangtze river in 2006.  To read more about the decline and potential extinction of this unique species:

Yangtze River Dolphin: The Yangtze River Dolphin – How to Define an Epoch.

There is always a certain “background” rate of extinction, as species fail to compete and die out.  The fossil record identifies five major extinction events when global biodiversity was significantly reduced, but there have been many other smaller extinction events recorded in the fossil record.  However, some scientists have declared the Holocene as the site of the “sixth great mass extinction”, with huge numbers of species threatened with extinction.

The most recent study by the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) found that more than 17,200 species of the 47,677 species studied were classified as being threatened by extinction.  The IUCN compiles a red list of species (first prepared in 1948), this catalogues species and rates them along a spectrum to indicate their threatened status.  Species can be classified as LC (least concern) down to EW (extinct in the wild) and ET (extinct).  Of the worlds 5, 490 mammal species 79 are classified as extinct.  The IUCN has estimated that approximately 30% of all amphibian species, 70% of plants and 35% of invertebrates are threatened with extinction.

It has been estimated that by 2050 the human population will have soared to over 9 billion and the increasing human population will increase the pressure on limited resources thus leading to the extinction of many more species.  The reduction of diversity and habitat in conjunction with global warning may have dire consequences for our own species.

We at Everything Dinosaur, are trying to do our bit.  One of our team members has become our “Environmental Officer” and to date we have fitted energy saving light bulbs, reduced our fossil fuel consumption and introduced a new policy on packaging recycling.  In addition, we have been slowly converting the area behind our offices into a wildlife friendly habitat by cleaning out and restoring a pond, planting bee friendly plants and putting in some new trees.  Team members have also been encouraged to consider where the food they eat comes from.  Vegetable and fruit seeds have been provided and we are all being encouraged to “grow our own”.  So far, crops of carrots, beetroot, rhubarb, onions and a series of herbs have been successfully harvested.

We have also been involved in a number of other projects too, we recognise that whilst we cannot make a huge impact on our own we can make a small difference, other plans for this summer include monitoring the grass meadow we helped to establish and creating a fernery and rockery to increase the number of wildlife habitats the area behind the offices has.