Friday, 14 May 2010

Biodiversity threatened

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 Logo for IUCN Red List
Sometimes those who care passionately about the environment let themselves and the cause down by hyperbole that desensitises the public and the media to dramatic changes and deterioration in the natural world. But when the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) makes a statement the world (and particularly political and business leaders) should sit up, take notice and take action. 

Grey crowned crane (Balearica regulorum)

The IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network - a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. The IUCN’s work is supported by more than 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. The Union’s headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, Switzerland.
Bill Jackson is the IUCN Deputy Director General and he has said in the past week, “Twenty-one percent of all known mammals, 30 percent of all known amphibians, 12 percent of all known birds, 35 percent of conifers and cycads, 17 percent of sharks and 27 percent of reef-building corals assessed for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ are threatened with extinction.”

So just in case you missed that:-

·         21% of all known mammals

·         30% of all known amphibians

·         12% of all known birds

·         25% of conifers

·         17% of sharks

·         27% of coral reefs

Orange-eyed green tree frog

All threatened with extinction.

The famous Red List is regularly updated based on meticulous research flagging the current status of birds and animals species by species.

That is not hyperbole but yet another reliable, scientific and important statement of FACT.

At the moment the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or SBSTTA, is meeting in Nairobi, Kenya between10th and 21st May 2010. 

Scientists are hoping to persuade governments to take action to halt the decline, reverse it and build a sustainable future.

Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) Threat category: ENDANGERED
As Jane Smart, Director, IUCN Biodiversity Conservation Group has said,  “Countries are taking a very shortsighted view of the need to fuel their economies at the expense of nature, so much so that we’re now at crisis point when it comes to the loss of biodiversity.”

The IUCN has set out plans and proposals of how the world can build a sustainable future. Every politician and business leader should read it.
Celebrating Biodiversity 


  1. In my opinion 'human actions' threaten the biodiversity. Not only politician and business leaders, but we, all of us should read and care at utmost level.

  2. You are absolutely right Nihal. All of us must proactively take responsibility for our actions and work together to solve the challenges to our beautiful planet. We must create a better way of living for a truly sustainable future.
    Best wishes.

  3. These are beautiful words, and no one would disagree. Which makes you wonder: if nobody disagrees, what value could a statement have?
    Now, don't misunderstand me: I am in full support of a sustainable life-style and all that, and I try to live that way too, but don't you think that "biodiversity" is turning into a serious hype? Almost to the same level as "CO2 emissions"... The kind of thing that everybody is supposed to agree with: CO2 emission is BAD, biodiversity loss is BAD. Whereas nobody seems to find it interesting anymore to discuss what is behind it. Is CO2 really the biggest contributor to climate change? and the most appropriate one to tackle if we want to combat that? What is the consequence of biodiversity loss? And is it really a problem?
    Approaching topics in this way, with pictures of attractive and rare species, is indeed a very political way of approaching it: it appeals to people, without having to discuss the more complicated issues behind it.
    The world would not have paleontologists, if millions of species had not disappeared over the past millions of years. And all of that without interference by man. Same as climate change, come to think of it. The ice-ages came and went, forms of climate change that seem to exceed the proportions of the current one, without anyone to blame for it! Too bad there were no politics when the dinosaurs disappeared: now we will never know whom to blame!
    But is it really a problem, if the whale disappears? Is it a bigger problem than the disappearance of some ugly moth in the Caribbean? Emotionally: yes! And I am as disgusted as you about whaling for so-called "scientific purposes"...

    But can we shift the discussion a little bit, and try to see biodiversity CHANGE (not necessarily every loss is a loss) at a different scale? Not just within the limited scope of our own life-time? Setting of changes in our earth only to the human timeline really does one thing only: it over-estimates man's importance.. Yes, we are capable of destroying the earth (partly, and temporarily). But we would destroy ourselves with it, which would quite neatly restore the balance...

  4. Dear HansM,

    I think you make some very important points.

    Yes, it may be self evident that the loss of biodiversity is a bad thing although you seem to question it in your comments. However, the issue is that as the loss goes on we need to raise awareness of the affects and persuade Governments, businesses and individuals to change their behaviour. Whilst the loss continues it is well worth repeating the message!
    Yes, we shouldn't always concentrate on just the loss of species (although the creation of new species is usually very slow). You are right that there can be a sentimentality in looking at beautiful whales and not wanting to them hunted but the hard science generally points to a long term serious decline that has accelerated in the past 100 years due to human activities.
    Generally though, the loss of biodiversity is a 'bad' thing.

    Affecting indigenous people:-

    Loss of potentially new medicines and other new helpful discoveries from the 'depth' of biodiversity:-

    There is an index to try and follow the trend in biodiversity:-

    Thanks for your comments.



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