By Roy L Hales
How is Climate Change affecting plant and animal populations? – A number of studies show the pace of extinctions accelerating.
A million species are currently threatened with extinction, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
Fred Pearce, of YaleEnvironment360, states 477 vertebrate species have disappeared since 1900.
According to a BBC report, “Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Stockholm University found that 571 plant species had disappeared in the last two and a half centuries …
This data suggests plant extinction is happening as much as 500 times faster than what would be expected normally, if humans weren’t around.”
An IPBES press release describes the scope of our impact, ”Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. On average these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.”
Sixth Wave of Extinctions
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.”
It is not known whether humanity will be among the species threatened with extinction before the present climate crises is over.
“More than 90 percent of all organisms that have ever lived on Earth are extinct. As new species evolve to fit ever changing ecological niches, older species fade away.”
A possibly extinct plant species (Encephalartos cerinus) by David J. Stang via wikipedia (CC BY SA, 2.5 License)