There are around 8.7 million species of plants and animals in existence. Human activity is causing environmental degradation, which is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water, and soil; the destruction of ecosystems; habitat destruction; the extinction of wildlife; and pollution. It is defined as any change or disturbance to the environment perceived to be deleterious or undesirable.
We are destroying nature at an unprecedented rate, threatening the survival of a million species – and our own future, too. The evidence is incontestable. Our destruction of biodiversity and ecosystem services has reached levels that threaten our well-being at least as much as human-induced climate change.
“The seemingly insatiable human tendency to consume is changing our planet and the life on it, but can we change our behavior?”
- Could humans really destroy all life on Earth? - By Santhosh Mathew [www.bbc.com]
Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties, and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating, or vanishing. Human pressure on nature has soared since the 1970s. We have been using more and more natural resources, and this has come at a cost. This loss constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world. The problem isn’t just our focus on economic growth regardless of the impact on the natural world. Current plans for reducing carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero to limit climate change rely heavily on bioenergy, which requires a lot of lands. This will accelerate species loss as well as threaten food and water security.
Over the last 50 years, nature's capacity to support us has plummeted. Air and water quality are reducing, soils are depleting, crops are short of pollinators, and coasts are less protected from storms. If we lose large portions of the natural world, human quality of life will be severely reduced and the lives of future generations will be threatened unless effective action is taken.
For decades, scientists have been raising calls for societal changes that will reduce our impact on nature. Though much conservation has occurred, our natural environment continues to decline under the weight of our consumption. Humanity depends directly on the output of nature; thus, this decline is and will affect us, just as it does the other species with which we share this world. According to the findings of the largest assessment of the state of nature conducted as of yet - the state of nature, and the state of the equitable distribution of nature's support, is in serious decline. Only immediate transformation of global business-as-usual economies and operations will sustain nature as we know it, and us, into the future.
“The world is in trouble: one million animals and plants face extinction.”
Every ecosystem around the world is affected by extinction, from coral reefs to tropical jungles, and the problem is accelerating with each passing day. It is estimated that around one million animals and plants are threatened with extinction - more than ever before in human history. More than 40% of amphibian species, about 33% of reef-forming corals, and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. And it is humanity that is to blame, as about 75% of environments on land have been significantly altered by human actions, plus roughly 66% of the marine environment.
Why we should care?
All this loss in nature is now likely to translate into a loss of human homes, economies, and lives. As the natural environment is squeezed, over time it has less to offer Earth's human population, and without action, this problem will worsen.
Do you know?
- Up to 300 million people are already at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of the loss of coastal habitats and protection.
- More than 800 million people face food insecurity in Asia and Africa, and about 40%: of the global population lacks access to clean and safe drinking water.
- There are currently more than 2,500 conflicts over fossil fuels, water, food, and land occurring worldwide.
Loss of biodiversity is therefore shown to be not only an environmental issue but also a developmental, economic, security, social and moral issue as well.
We need to understand, human progress is no excuse to destroy nature. A push to make ‘ecocide’ a global crime must recognize this fundamental truth.
What is ecocide?
Ecocide is unlawful or wanton acts committed with the knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, says,
'This essential report reminds each of us of the obvious truth: the present generations have the responsibility to bequeath to future generations a planet that is not irreversibly damaged by human activity. Our local, indigenous, and scientific knowledge are proving that we have solutions and so no more excuses: we must live on earth differently. UNESCO is committed to promoting respect of the living and of its diversity, ecological solidarity with other living species, and to establish new, equitable and global links of partnership and intragenerational solidarity, for the perpetuation of humankind.'
Fishing nets and ropes are a frequent hazard for olive ridley sea turtles, seen on a beach in India’s Kerala state in January. A new 1,500-page report by the United Nations is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe.
Here is a detailed account of How You Can Protect the Ocean and Help Save Marine Life from Home by Isabella Caprario