The Sixth Extinction Continues Apace
The rising concern about climate change we are now witnessing is certainly good news. Still, even if the climate crisis were to magically vanish, we’d still be confronting a global ecological catastrophe. Perhaps the most dramatic expression of this larger challenge is the stunning loss of biodiversity in recent decades. A new UN assessment reports that a million species are at risk of extinction, including two in five amphibian species, one in three reef-forming corals, almost one in three other marine species, and at least one in ten insect species. This “sixth extinction” continues apace as we clear land for farmland and development, log and fish beyond the carrying capacity of ecosystems, pollute water, and spread invasive species. And, of course, climate change amplifies the extinction rate. We will feel the impact in lost livelihoods, food insecurity, and impoverishment of nature. In the past, countries have joined together to protect species from extinction. The scope of the crisis now demands unprecedented global cooperation and deep reductions in the human footprint.