Let’s play a game.
Try to answer this question… We’ll see if you know the correct answer or come close to it.
How many species are threatened with extinction at the present time?
Try to guess a number.
A species can be many things: a mammal, a tree, coral, a fungus, an insect, a natural sponge or any number of life forms… We can all start by naming the Mountain Gorilla, the Javan Rhino, the Vaquita (Porpoise), the Grandidier’s Baobab tree, Red Coral… Can you go on with a list of 10?
How many species do you think are facing the risk of becoming extinct?
100? 500? Maybe 1,000?
According to the official numbers given by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the 2021 Red List includes 37.480 species under threat.
Thirty seven thousand four hundred and eighty.
Established in 1964, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive source of information about the global extinction risk of biological species.
The IUCN Red List measures all pressures acting upon species and guiding and informing conservation actions to help prevent extinction. In simpler terms, the Red List is often referred to as a Barometer of Life.
But the IUCN Global Species Programme is only managing data for roughly 134,400 species, whilst it has been proven that humans, at present, are aware of an estimated 1,562,663 different life forms on this planet. So there are thousands more species waiting to be investigated.
In fact, according to Derek Tittensor, a scientist at the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, who worked with peers from Canada and Hawaii, has stated that it’s now possible to estimate that the natural world contains about 8.7 million species.
This tremendous variety of living species provide the fundamentals for human life: Air, Water and Food, yet it seems we have forgotten this…
The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, released in 2019 based on 15,000 scientific and government sources and compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries, draws an extensive picture of economic development and its effects on nature in the past 50 years.
Pollution, hunting, deforestation, intensive farming, overfishing: human activities are the reason for the environmental decline, having converted more than 75% of Earth’s land areas and 66% of the Oceans.
Apparently the only animals we care for are the ones we cage in factory farms: Compassion in World Farming, a leading farm animal welfare charity, reported that more than 50 billion animals are factory farmed for food each year in intensive systems that put production above all else, and the majority live in conditions that cause suffering and stress from the moment they are born to the end of their lives.
All this data and research is crucial, not only to help identify those species needing targeted recovery efforts, but also for re-focusing the worldwide political agenda by identifying the key sites and habitats that need to be protected, and to strengthen the main message that: a transformative change is urgently needed.
It’s deeply overwhelming that we humans know very little about the species with which we share Earth, but we are destroying the Planet’s natural landscapes so cruelly, with total ignorance to the destructive impact we have.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Jane Goodall, primatologist and leading authority in the Rights of the Environment, urged a drastic and collective change:
“We need to move to a more sustainable relationship with the natural world. We need a greener economy. If countries move away from fossil fuels and subsidise clean, green energy that will create a lot of jobs. If you plant trees in a city it has enormous benefits – it cools the temperature, cleans the air, stabilises the soil against flooding and improves psychological and physical health, to mention only a few. We also need to cut down on waste.”
And in her opinion this urgency has to run beside a different point of view, media and politics must give more space and more help to the amazing people who are trying hard to fix our broken Planet:
“Change is happening. Millions are switching to wind and solar energy, clearing up streams or picking up rubbish. Consumers are influencing the way business does its work. There are many different ways to start moving in the right way.“
You can do your part by becoming aware of the problems and more importantly, the different solutions. Business as usual is no longer tolerated because billions and billions of living beings need your help.
Stock footage provided by:
1. Shawn Reza, downloaded from http://www.pexels.com;
2. Frans Van Heerden, Gorilla Standing Behind Fence downloaded from http://www.pexels.com;
3. Lukas, downloaded from http://www.pexels.com;
4. Visually Us, downloaded from http://www.pexels.com;
5. Francesco Ungaro, downloaded from http://www.pexels.com;
6. Jeffrey Czum, downloaded from http://www.pexels.com;
7. Charles Miller, downloaded from http://www.pexels.com;
8. Brandon Montrone, downloaded from http://www.pexels.com;
9. Umberto Shaw, downloaded from http://www.pexels.com;