Since 1500, at least 680 of Earth’s animal species have gone extinct. Over the past hundred years, in most land habitats from South American rain forests to African savannas, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has declined by 20 percent or more. Human activities including farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are now altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history”, according to an assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) that came out earlier this year.
Global warming has changed the local climates that mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in, leading to the decline or extinction of many species. Unless international conservation efforts are drastically increased, this loss of biodiversity will accelerate, particularly in the tropics. The most endangered species include leopards, tigers, elephants, rhinos, sea turtles, gorillas and orangutans.
Dealing with these issues requires a major change in our human lifestyle. We have to accept that it is going to cost a great deal of both effort and funding, at the national and international levels.
Naturalist and television presenter David Attenborough has been speaking out against the overuse of plastic and the dangers of climate change.The 2017 BBC documentary series Blue Planet II urges viewers to take action against global threats to the environment. “I’m okay and all of us here are all okay because we won’t face the problems. But the problems in 20, 30 years are really major problems that are going to cause great social unrest and great changes in the way that we live,” Attenborough said.
Attenborough praised the awareness and concern young people have shown on climate change. Around the world, teenagers have marched and campaigned as part of a global movement initiated by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. “A great number of politicians have told me that panic never leads to anything good, but when your house is on fire, then that does require some level of panic,” she told the EU in a speech last spring.