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Sierra Leone News: Over 1 million species are at risk of extinction

Some 300 mammal species have died off since the last ice age 130,000 years ago. It would take 3 to 7 million years for evolution to generate 300 new species. Humans have been around for about 200,000 years. That’s a blink of an eye in terms of the age of the planet. Nevertheless, in that time, humans have caused damage that may well last longer than the human species itself.  The UN’s Intergovernmental Science – Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service released a summary of an upcoming 1,500-page report on the state of biodiversity on the earth. The report has 145 authors from 50 countries and it sums up about 15,000 scientific papers on the threats against life in the age of human. The report findings are stark. It finds that species of all kinds mammals, birds, amphibians, insect, plant marine life, terrestrial life are disappearing at a rate “ten to hundred times higher than the average over the last 10 million years due to human activity.” In all, it warns as many as 1 million species are now at risk of extinction if we don’t act to save them; that number includes 40% of all amphibian’s species, 33% of corals, and around 10% of insects. It amounted to a biodiversity crisis that spans the globe and threatens every ecosystem. The result echoes much of which is already known. Life on earth is in peril.  Earlier this year, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released its biennial Living Planet Report, a global assessment of the health of animal populations all over the world. They found that the average vertebrate population, that is the average size of any given species population in organizational database, whether it has 10,000 individuals or 10 million has declined 60% since 1970.   According to the report, the reasons for such crisis includes changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution and invasive. The report also noted that to solve the biodiversity crisis, it’s going to take more than the action of individuals. It’s going to take countries deciding to set aside more room for nature in the form of protected areas. It’s going to take lessening the load of plastic pollution on our seas. It also going to take addressing climate change and it various input. It means protecting indigenous communities, who use their land in a more sustainable way. It is going to take innovation. How can the numbers of humans on the globe be fed without converting more forest to farmland? The report notes, “Each species genetic code is like the sheet music of a symphony, each letter of its DNA a musical note, written, rewritten, edited and reshaped over millions of years. Losing theses species is like losing a great work of art, or a tremendous library. The death of species is the death of tremendous amount of natural history. Nature is slow author human kill with vicious efficiency. When we lose species also, we lose to access about their biology.”

MJB/9/5/19

By Mohamed J. Bah

Friday May 10, 2019.

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