Wed, May 15, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Scientists warn a million species at risk of extinction

France’s Minister of Ecology Francois de Rugy delivers a speech at the opening of an international conference on biodiversity in Paris on April 29.

Photo: AFP

One million animal and plant species are at imminent risk of extinction due to humankind’s relentless pursuit of economic growth, scientists said last Monday in a landmark report on the devastating impact of modern civilization on the natural world, the Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

The bombshell executive summary of a 1,800-page tome crafted by more than 400 experts — the first UN global assessment of the natural world in 15 years.

Scientists made an impassioned appeal to governments and businesses worldwide to confront “vested interests” they said were blocking reforms in farming, energy and mining needed to save the Earth’s ecosystems.

The report found that up to one million of Earth’s estimated eight million plant, insect and animal species are at risk of extinction, many within decades.

It identified industrial farming and fishing as major drivers of the crisis, with the current rate of species extinction tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the last 10 million years.

Climate change caused by burning the coal, oil and gas produced by the fossil fuel industry is exacerbating the losses, the report found.

The report is the largest, most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the conjoined fates of human wellbeing and the natural world. It was compiled over three years and based on 15,000 scientific papers, and identified a range of risks, from the disappearance of insects vital for pollinating food crops, to the destruction of coral reefs that support fish populations and the loss of medicinal plants.

The threatened list includes more than 40 percent of amphibian species, almost 33 percent of reef-forming corals, sharks and shark relatives, and more than a third of all marine mammals. The picture was less clear for insect species, but a tentative estimate suggests 10 percent could become extinct.


1. imminent risk phr.

迫切的危機 (po4 qie4 de5 wei2 ji1)

2. extinction n.

滅絕 (mie4 jue2)

3. reform n.

改革 (gai3 ge2)

4. ecosystem n.

生態系統 (sheng1 tai4 xi4 tong3)

5. conjoined fate phr.

共同命運 (gong4 tong2 ming4 yun4)

The report’s blunt language echoed the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said in October that profound economic and social changes would be needed to curb greenhouse gases quickly enough to avert the most devastating consequences of a warming world.












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