According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), since 1970 60% of the mammals, birds, fish and reptiles on the planet have been driven to extinction. To the extent that the WWF has it right, climate change accounts for less than 10% of these losses (graph below). As important and logistically complex as resolving climate change is, it is but one of a host of environmental ills in equal or greater need of resolution.
Habitat degradation and loss and animal exploitation (e.g. trawl-net fishing) explain most of this animal extinction. Habitat loss is primarily due to deforestation to feed factory farm animals. According to the Guardian, these animal losses would require 5 – 7 million years to recover from. But as of today, the causes of extinction continue unabated with no plausible plans being put forward by national governments to address it.
Graph: Of the mass extinction of animals that the WWF is reporting, most comes from habitat loss and degradation. Climate change explains less than 10% of the losses. The point isn’t to downplay climate change, but to express the breadth of the environmental crisis that the world now faces. While the role of global warming will increase in time, mass extinction is at present a related but separate crisis in need of resolution. Source: wwf.org.uk.
As reported hereand here, the animal extinction isn’t anomalous. Over approximately the same time frame, 60% – 80% of insects have also been made extinct. The precise balance of causes is debatable, but putting climate change forwardas the primary cause reframes the concept of a ‘carbon budget’ in wildly alarming terms. If the one-degreeCelsius warming experienced to date explains the insect extinction, where does that leave the IPCC’s1.5 degree warming ‘budget?’
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