More than 400 plants and animals have been added to the “Red List” of species that are considered at risk of extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
That means that the total number of animal and plant species known to be at risk of dying out is now 20,219.
But the IUCN says that the whole disaster could be stopped and even turned around with a relatively small commitment of $440 billion a year from nations around the world.
The IUCN’s latest figures were announced at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity that’s taking place in Southern India.
“The figures are going up,” IUCN global director for biodiversity conservation Jane Smart told journalists. She said she was especially alarmed by what’s happening on Madagascar, home to many unique species of lemur who are dying out.
“The figures on Madagascar’s palms are truly terrifying,” she said, referring to the fact that out of 192 palm species on the island, 160 are now close to extinction, which will have a domino effect on lemurs and other animals. And since the humans on Madagascar depend on the palms for housing and other needs, they will go in search of other kinds of plants, which will, in turn, devastate yet more animals.
“This situation cannot be ignored,” she said. The trouble, of course, is that the situation is already being ignored and will almost certainly continue to be ignored – which is why the number of animals on the Red List just keeps on growing.
Fully one quarter of the world’s mammals, 13 per cent of birds, 41 per cent of amphibians and 33 per cent of reef-building corals are at risk of extinction, according to the IUCN.
Environment ministers and secretaries from 70 nations are meeting this week for high-level talks on halting the depletion of Earth’s natural resources. Two years ago, those countries approved a 20-point plan for reversing the worrying decline in plant and animal species that humans depend on for food, shelter and livelihoods. But nothing much has happened since then.
The $440 billion that experts from the United Nations say would be enough to turn things around is basically small change in a world that now counts budgets in trillions of dollars – not a big deal for a consortium of major countries like the United States, China, Japan, Germany, Russia and others, along with contributions from smaller nations.
Instead, what we – the human race – are saying, is that we simply don’t care what happens to our fellow animals, to their lands and to their homes on land and in the oceans.
Basically, we’re content to let all the wildlife just die and be replaced by more and more “domesticated” animals whom we can raise and kill to feed ourselves.
It is genocide on an unimaginable scale. And we are apparently going to let it happen.