Biodiversity loss has gone beyond the planetary boundaries

Source: Tanja Folnovic, June 23, 2015 “Loss of Biodiversity”.

Preface. The survival of homo sapiens depends on the ecosystem that supports us, so a loss of biodiversity is a threat to our survival and ultimately can lead to extinction.

Alice Friedemann  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

Newbold, T., et al. July 15, 2016. Has land use pushed terrestrial biodiversity beyond the planetary boundary? A global assessment. Science (253):288-291

For 58.1% of the world’s land surface, which is home to 71.4% of the global population, the level of biodiversity loss is substantial enough to question the ability of ecosystems to support human societies. The loss is due to changes in land use and puts levels of biodiversity beyond the ‘safe limit’ recently proposed by the planetary boundaries — an international framework that defines a safe operating space for humanity.

This is the first time we’ve quantified the effect of habitat loss on biodiversity globally in such detail and we’ve found that across most of the world biodiversity loss is no longer within the safe limit suggested by ecologists” explained lead researcher, Dr Tim Newbold from UCL and previously at UNEP-WCMC.

The team found that grasslands, savannas and shrub lands were most affected by biodiversity loss, followed closely by many of the world’s forests and woodlands. The ability of biodiversity to support key ecosystem functions where plants and animals can grow and nutrients are recycled is becoming increasingly uncertain.

Levels of biodiversity loss are so high that if left unchecked, they could prevent long-term sustainable development.

It’s worrying that land use has already pushed biodiversity below the level proposed as a safe limit,” said Professor Andy Purvis of the Natural History Museum, London, who also worked on the study. “Decision-makers worry a lot about economic recessions, but an ecological recession could have even worse consequences — and the biodiversity damage we’ve had means we’re at risk of that happening. Until and unless we can bring biodiversity back up, we’re playing ecological roulette.”

The team used data from hundreds of scientists across the globe to analyze 2.38 million records for 39,123 species at 18,659 sites to estimate how biodiversity in every square kilometer land has changed since before humans modified the habitat.

They found that biodiversity hot spots — those that have seen habitat loss in the past but have a lot of species only found in that area — are threatened, showing high levels of biodiversity decline.

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