Up to a million species at risk of extinction, study warns

Up to a million species at risk of extinction, study warns

A beach covered with plastic waste, in Dakar, Sengal

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Up to a million species of plants and animals are at risk of extinction, a new study has warned.

Research by the UN-backed global assessment found that wildlife and habitats are declining at an "unprecedented" rate worldwide which directly threatens human beings.

Scientists warned that the natural world is deteriorating faster than ever as a direct result of human activity, eroding "the very foundations" of economies, livelihoods, food, health and quality of life worldwide.

Three-quarters of the world's land has been "significantly altered" by human activity, with forests cut down and grassland ploughed up for crops or livestock and the spread of cities, industry and infrastructure such as roads.

The study also suggested plastic pollution has increased 10-fold in the seas since 1980, harming turtles, seabirds and mammals, fertiliser run-off has caused "dead zones" in the oceans, land is becoming less productive, and the loss of pollinators puts crops at risk.

Without such "transformational change", the damage will continue or worsen up to 2050 and beyond, posing a direct threat to human well-being around the world, the study said.

Evolutionary Biologist Simon Watt said that “things are going to get worse before they get better”.

He told talkRADIO’s Eamonn Holmes: “We have to admit that these issues are political issues. These are going to take large scale planning and international agreements.

“These are the types of agreements that we have been trying to reach for 20 years. Even if we have made commitments, we have not held our leaders to account.”

He added: “We are getting to the equivalent of the impact that wiped out the dinosaurs and the like.”

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