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Around one million species could go extinct within the next few decades

With more plants and animals than ever before on a global list of threatened species, WWF has warned of a looming mass extinction – the largest event of its kind since the end of the dinosaur age.

66 million years ago, an asteroid struck the Earth, resulting in a worldwide environmental change that, as we know, wiped out the dinosaurs.

Today, another mass extinction event is looming, the outcome of human activity and our impact on the climate.

This is according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, which warned last week that around one million species could go extinct within the next few decades.

Due to be the largest event of its kind since the devastating near apocalypse we all learned about in school, it’s expected to occur in the form of large-scale natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, flooding, and drought-induced wildfires.

That’s in addition to the biodiversity crisis, invasive species wiping out native plants or animals, and diseases from human trade – all knock-on effects of global warming.

The stark prediction comes on the back of WWF’s ‘Winners and Losers of 2021’ project, which outlines both conservation victories and the species added to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It revealed that some 142,500 animals and plants were added that year alone – the highest number to be included since the Red List was established in 1964 – almost 30% of which are now actively threatened with extinction.

‘When humanity exterminates other creatures, it is sawing off the limb on which it is sitting, destroying working parts of our own life-support system,’ reads the report.

‘Decision makers at every level need to make the right political, financial and consumer choices to achieve the vision that humanity and nature thrive in harmony on our only planet.’

Among those most acutely at risk are African forest elephants, whose population has declined by 86 per cent within just 31 years, and polar bears, as the rapid melting of pack ice in the Arctic Ocean continues making it impossible for them to adapt.

One in six of world's species faces extinction due to climate change – study | Wildlife | The Guardian

And, to make matters worse, WWF board member, Eberhard Brandes, has said that ‘species conservation is no longer just about defeating an environmental problem but is rather about the question of whether or not humanity will eventually end up on the Red List in an endangered category — and thereby become a victim of its own lifestyle.’

For all lifeforms currently on Earth, it seems we may be the asteroid this time around.

I’m sure you’ve watched (or at least heard of) Don’t Look Up, ‘an analogy of modern-day culture and our inability to hear and listen to scientific truth,’ as described by Leonardo DiCaprio himself.

While I must admit that, post-viewing, I felt somewhat overwhelmed by existential dread, the satirical science fiction film did in fact remind me that indifference is not an option if we are to save our planet.

So, as we face this final opportunity to ensure that the many services nature provides us with do not get irretrievably sabotaged, let’s bear in mind that genuine action is the only way forward.