1 in 10 species could go extinct by end of century if COP15 fails
The report comes as the largest biodiversity conference, COP15, takes place in Montreal focusing on biodiversity and finalizes its negotiations this week.
The Earth could become a graveyard to a tenth of its plant and animal species by the end of the century, according to new research after close to 3,000 scientists urged governments to stop harming nature during the final talks at the COP15.
In a report published on Friday in Science Advances, scientists exhibited their analysis of more than 150,388 species with more than 42,000 threatened with extinction as a result of human action.
Animals such as dugongs, commonly known as "sea cows", considered as an important source of ecotourism in their tropical habitats, are now threatened with extinction.
To better understand the effect global heating and land use could have on life, new research, using a supercomputer to model a synthetic Earth with virtual species, shows that 6% of plants and animals will disappear by 2050, increasing to 13% by the end of the century. As a worst-case scenario, 27% of plants and animals could disappear by 2100.
'With nothing to eat'
Dr. Giovanni Strona, a co-author and a scientist at the University of Helsinki, stated, “We have populated a virtual world from the ground up and mapped the resulting fate of thousands of species across the globe to determine the likelihood of real-world tipping points.”
The researcher's co-author, Prof Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University in Australia, also chimed in adding, “This study is unique because it accounts also for the secondary effect on biodiversity, estimating the effect of species going extinct in local food webs beyond direct effects. The results demonstrate that interlinkages within food webs worsen biodiversity loss.”
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He continued, “Think of a predatory species that loses its prey to climate change. The loss of the prey species is a ‘primary extinction’ because it succumbed directly to a disturbance. But with nothing to eat, its predator will also go extinct (a co-extinction). Or, imagine a parasite losing its host to deforestation, or a flowering plant losing its pollinators because it becomes too warm. Every species depends on others in some way.”
The report comes in light of the largest biodiversity conference, COP15, taking place in Montreal with a special focus on biodiversity. More than 100 environment ministers from around the globe set targets to meet while seeking to bridge the gap between the global north and south in order to safeguard 30% of the Earth.
'We can't wait any longer'
Over 2,700 scientists have called on governments in an open letter to end the overconsumption and exploitation of resources and urged them to begin reversing biodiversity loss by the year 2030 - that's only in 7 years.
The letter stated, “The Parties to Cop15 must commit to halting and starting to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, to set us on a pathway to recovery where ecosystems can provide the functions that people need. There is a moral obligation to do so. Furthermore, it makes scientific sense, and is achievable if we act now, and act decisively. We owe this to ourselves and to future generations – we can’t wait any longer.”
Conversation groups expressed concern last Saturday as the conference shows no transparent mechanisms for implementing the targets, leading protesters to urge for more action.
According to the letter, agricultural transformation must be a part of the COP15 framework and guidelines that are due to be set, as it warns that a delay in action would potentially aggravate human inequality, death, and poverty.
“We will not succeed without putting as much effort into the goals and targets relating to the fundamental drivers of ecosystem destruction and biodiversity loss, including making our supply chains resilient and sustainable,” the letter continued.
In its conclusion, the letter read, “This requires attention to the disproportionately harmful consumption of wealthy nations, and to the rights and priorities of disadvantaged groups. Critically, this means that wealthy nations and actors need urgently and rapidly to reduce the impacts of their consumption, rather than imposing all the costs of nature recovery on less-wealthy nations where the biodiversity predominately remains.”
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