One million species face extinction within decades, according to a summary report for policymakers released last month by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
That’s roughly one in eight species on the planet.
“Following the adoption of this historic report, no one will be able to claim that they did not know,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay in a United Nations press release.
“We can no longer continue to destroy the diversity of life. This is our responsibility towards future generations.”
Azoulay added that protecting the Earth’s biodiversity, or the variety of life, is as important as fighting climate change.
This is because the loss of one species can have a domino effect on others, said Pam Soltis, director of the University of Florida Biodiversity Institute.
“Everything is connected.”
Cassie Freund, a Ph.D. student studying tropical forest ecology at Wake Forest University, urges people in an article she wrote for Massive Science that it’s important to not glaze over the words “biodiversity loss,” especially at a scale this big.
“’Biodiversity loss’ is not just the disappearance of charismatic species like the giant panda and black rhinoceros. It also means that the pollinators we depend on for 75% of our food crops will vanish. Marine fisheries will collapse. Animal that harbor disease, usually kept in check by predators, could explode out of control, putting us at risk of new tick-borne diseases and parasites,” Freund writes. “Your grandchildren won’t believe you when you tell them about the big cats and mighty sharks that once existed on Earth.”
Scientists say it will take ‘transformative change’ in the way we manage our agriculture, ocean and freshwater resources and urban areas to make a difference.
“Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably,” said IPBES chair Sir Robert Wilson.
The complete draft report can be found at: https://www.ipbes.net/global-assessment-biodiversity-ecosystem-services
For more information on the report’s findings, recommendations and key statistics and facts, visit the links below.
- Scale of loss of nature
- Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities and nature
- Global targets and policy scenarios
- Policy tools, options and best practices
- By the numbers: key statistics and facts
How Does Florida Fit Into the Global Biodiversity Problem?
The report was authored by 145 authors from 50 different countries. Together, they reviewed more than 15,000 scientific and government sources to rank the top five drivers of species decline as changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution and invasive species.
To get an idea of what transformative change looks like, it’s important to see what the causes of biodiversity loss look like on a local scale.
In other words, what do the above five drivers look like in Florida? Click the links below to find out.
For decades, Florida’s warm climate and lush landscapes have attracted more than 500 non-native plant and animal species.
Marine plastic pollution and nutrient pollution threaten Florida's plants and wildlife.
Just like many coastal areas, Florida is feeling the effects of the Earth’s changing air and water temperature.
As of July 2016, Florida was home to 87 endangered species and 37 threatened species.
Florida has experienced significant changes to its natural landscape and resources.
So, what can we do?
The report calls for transformative change on a global scale and includes policy recommendations for what that might look like for agriculture, our oceans and our freshwater lakes and rivers. Click the links below for some of the recommendations outlined in the report and what they might look like in Florida.
Increase Capacity for Freshwater Storage
This October, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin construction on the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area.
Take an Ecosystems-Based Approach to Fisheries Management
We need to take a holistic approach rather than considering a single species or issue in isolation.
Follow and Promote Good Agriculture Practices.
Thanks to decades of research about the best ways to feed ourselves, several key sustainable farming practices have emerged.
To read about all of the recommendations for policymakers outlined in the report, visit: Policy tools, options and best practices
What can I do personally to promote biodiversity?
Now that you’ve learned a little more about the causes of biodiversity loss, what those look like in Florida, and possible policy solutions, you might be wondering—how can I help promote biodiversity in my everyday life?
Several publications have put together checklists of simple steps you can take to help protect biodiversity.