How do people destroy humanity

Man himself destroys his life

by Ursula A. Kolbe

The latest facts on global biodiversity are on the table. Concentrated and unadorned: up to a million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. And man himself is to blame. By intervening in nature, he has accelerated the global extinction of species to such an extent that his own existence is in danger.

This is what it says in the report of the World Council for Biodiversity of the 132 IPBES members, which was approved after several days of negotiations in Paris. For this first, the most comprehensive report in 14 years, 145 scientists from 50 countries carried out more than 15,000 studies, including Sources evaluated and a balance of biodiversity drawn over the last 50 years.

As I said, the report gives a bleak picture of the state of our earth. According to this, up to a million of the estimated eight million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, many of them in the coming decades. Already today there are around 20 percent fewer species on average in the world than at the beginning of the 20th century. More than 40 percent of amphibian species, 33 percent of all reef-building corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are acutely threatened, according to the report.

In addition, at least 680 vertebrate species have become extinct since the 16th century, as well as more than nine percent of all domesticated mammal races that are used for food and agriculture. In addition, three quarters of the land area and two thirds of the seas have been decisively changed by humans. Such negative changes are said to be far less severe or non-existent in areas administered by indigenous peoples or local communities.

What are the five most important factors for these developments? The report concludes that, in descending order of importance, these are changes in land and marine use, direct use of plants and animals, climate change, pollution and invasive species. At least in some areas, the researchers emphasize, however, climate change will move to the fore again in the next few years.

The web of life is fraying more and more

"The essential web of life is getting smaller and fraying more and more," says Josef Settele from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Halle, who is the main author of the IPBES report alongside the Argentinean Sandra Diaz and the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Brondizio. "This loss is a result of human activity and poses a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world," said Settele. "Scary" are the results, stressed the head of the IPBES report, Sir Robert Watson. The health of the ecosystems on which humans and other species depend is deteriorating faster than ever. Humanity is about to eradicate the foundations of income, nutrition, health and quality of life.

This realization is one of the key points of the report. The decline in biodiversity has meanwhile progressed so far that its consequences will have a negative impact on people. Up to 80 percent of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations are threatened if people continue to destroy their livelihoods at this speed. The loss of biodiversity is therefore not only a purely environmental issue, but also a threat to global development, economy and security.

In general, many of the developments listed in the report are closely related to the rapid growth of the population. The biggest driver of species loss is agriculture by humans. Since 1970, crop yields have tripled and logging has almost doubled. In addition, 60 billion tons of renewable and non-renewable raw materials are mined every year - almost twice as many as in 1980. The total area built on with cities is now more than twice as large as it was in 1992. Plastic waste pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, a lot of others Poisons and waste get into water.

The efforts of mankind to date to better protect biological diversity within the framework of UN agreements have been given a disastrous testimony. So far, only four of the 20 Aichi goals that the international community adopted in Japan in 2010 have been achieved. By 2020, inter alia the loss of natural habitats will be halved, overfishing of the world's oceans will be stopped and 17 percent of the oceans will be placed under protection. Most of the goals can no longer be achieved by next year.

What can we do in Germany?

Thomas Borsch, Director of the Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin and Professor for Systematics and Biogeography of Plants at the FU, who heads several projects on the subject of biodiversity, also poses the question of what we can do in Germany. He says in the “Tagesspiegel”: We have to secure the species-rich habitats and occurrences of rare species wherever they are still available. This can also ensure that the genetic variability is still available. This is the only way many species have a chance of survival in the long term.

We also need scientifically sound, targeted species protection strategies for plants. Priorities must be set here. However, experience from previous species protection projects shows that good successes are possible, ”emphasizes Borsch and further explains that a holistic approach must be taken, because:“ Insect protection is above all protection and restoration of the natural habitats of insects. Plant diversity is the key here, because rare insects in particular specialize in rare plants.

A global rethinking of consumption, agriculture and mobility would also help against the extinction of species. Because many species die themselves in the protected areas, for example through substances from agriculture. And species protection is also climate protection: Anyone who drains bogs, wetlands and wet grassland, for example, not only destroys biodiversity, but also releases a lot of CO2.

It is not yet too late, "the scientist appeals," but we cannot afford further losses. We don't need packets of seeds, we need consistent political setting of the course, and if possible internationally. And we all have to take action! Because the cause of the great death is man. "