United Nations Report Warns of Potential Extinction of One Million Plant and Animal Species

United Nations Report Warns of Potential Extinction of One Million Plant and Animal Species

May 7, 20192 min read

The United Nations has issued an assessment sounding the alarm that one million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction due to human-related changes to the Earth’s natural landscapes. This poses a dire threat to ecosystems upon which people all over the world are dependent for survival, according to a New York Times report. The human degradation of the environment has further been exacerbated by global warming, it added.

“Biodiversity is caught between the stark, local effects of human action, like deforestation, and the diffuse but steadily worsening global effects like climate change. This report says the combination is more devastating than the sum of its parts,” stated Adam Langley, an associate professor in Villanova’s Department of Biology.

Consumerism is a driving factor in the rapidly deteriorating situation, Langley said.

“It’s becoming clear that no amount of information can overwhelm the will of the consumer, whether it's the greed of the wealthy or desperation of the poor. Producers and consumers act out of personal interests, not out of their fondness for wildlife.”

Government action must lead the way in alleviating the severity of the direction in which biodiversity loss is headed, according to Langley.

“To make the drastic changes we need, the solutions must come from the top. Governments must recognize the enormous subsidy we receive from intact ecosystems in the form of food, fiber, clean water and air. In our world, valuing biodiversity means putting a price on it—and paying the price when we degrade it.”

He added, “When I see reports like this, I’m struck that, in the history of Earth, we are the first species that is able for foresee an extinction event. We can predict it in painful detail. Avoiding that demise would be truly unique, but we’ve yet to see if human nature has that capacity.”

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  • J. Adam Langley, PhD
    J. Adam Langley, PhD Professor of Biology | College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

    Adam Langley, PhD, focuses his research on how ecosystems respond to, and may determine the severity of, environmental change.

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