A 92-page report, Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 report, published by the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Curitiba, Brazil, says that, ‘… we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of earth, and the greatest since the dinosaurs disappeared, 65 million years ago’.
(The other ‘Big Five’ extinctions happened about 205, 250, 375 and 440 million years ago and were probably caused, according to scientists, by asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions or sudden climate changes.)
Pollution, urban , deforestation, the introduction of ‘alien species’ and global warming and a human population of 6.5 billion people are undermining the environment for flora and fauna.
According to the World Conservation Union’s ‘Red List’, 844 animals —from the dodo to the Golden Toad in Costa Rica — and plants have gone extinct in the last 500 years, but Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 says these figures are a serious underestimate.
The UN report estimates that the current pace of extinctions is 1,000 times faster than historical ones. The global goal, ‘to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss’, established at a 2002 UN summit in Johannesburg, albeit not impossible, could now be a pipe dream.
“Unprecedented additional efforts will be needed to achieve the 2010 biodiversity target at national, regional and global levels,’ concludes this week’s report.
Convention on Biological Diversity