Across the world, ecosystems and the living organisms within - are declining at rates unprecedented in the modern world, warns a new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
"The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture," said IPBES Chair, 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."
"The report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global," he said. "Through 'transformative change,' nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values."
"The member States of IPBES Plenary have now acknowledged that, by its very nature, transformative change can expect opposition from those with interests vested in the status quo, but also that such opposition can be overcome for the broader public good," Watson said.
Almost 150 researchers from 50 countries with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, worked for three years to assess climate change over the last five decades, constructed a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between industrialization and their impacts on nature.
IPBES found that 1 million animal and plant species across the planet are now threatened with extinction due to the direct result of industrialization.
"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. Settele. "This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world."
Almost half of the amphibians and a third of all marine mammals are endangered, the reported warned. Since 1970, the global habitat has collapsed by 30%, with an astonishing 85% of the wetlands from the 1700s were wiped out by 2000.
"We're not just losing bee species. We're losing insects," said Joseph Walston, senior vice president for the global conservation of the Wildlife Conservation Society, who spoke with The Wall Street Journal. "We're not just losing the tiger. We're losing many or most vertebrates."
For the last half-decade, we have routinely covered studies that link glyphosate, the world's most common weed killer, to the global decline in honey bees. Our latest report shows bees exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, lose critical bacterial in their guts and are more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria.
Researchers believe the IPBES study could better inform humans across the planet about the devastating trends - so they can make better decision to save the world. Some actions people could do to change these extinction trends are decreasing food waste, developing sustainable fishing practices, improving land and water management, develop cleaner technologies for industries, and prevent further deforestation.