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Humans Place 1 Million Species At Risk Of Extinction

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A new report from the world's experts paints a devastating picture of the planet with up to a million species on track to extinction.

The potential death toll is higher than it has been at any point in human history and scientists say time is running out to save all the species at risk.

IPBES Report Paints Bleak Picture For Plants, Animals

The report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive report of it's kind with data from 145 experts from 50 countries. By looking at changes over the past 50 years, the report analyzes economic development pathways and their impact on the environment.

Of Earth's 8 million plant and animal species, about 1 million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction in the next few decades.

The numbers of many species have already dropped drastically in the past century.

More than 500,000 land species are without sufficient habitat for long-term survival, while more than 40 percent of amphibian species are already threatened by extinction. Nearly 33 percent of reef-forming corals, sharks, and shark relatives are also threatened as well as more than 33 percent of all marine mammals.

Since the 16th century, 680 vertebrate species and over 9 percent of all domesticated mammals for food and agriculture have gone extinct.

All of these mean that it's likely for the world to fail in meeting the United Nation's biodiversity targets, which was set up to protect species essential for human survival.

"The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed," said Professor Josef Settele, who is the co-chair of the assessment report.

Settele explained that the losses are the direct result of humans and will eventually become a direct threat to people all around the world.

The Human Footprint

Some of the human activities that have led to the devastation of many plant and animal species include climate change, changes in how humans use the land and the sea, pollution, invasion of alien species, and direct exploitation of organisms.

Of course, the people behind the report stress that it's not too late to ensure the survival of many species, if not all.

IPBES chair Sir Robert Watson called for "transformative change" to turn things around, adding that a fundamental, system-wide reorganization is necessary "across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals, and values."

"Ours is the first generation with the tools to see how the Earth has been changed by people at our own peril," Guenter Mitlacher, director of international biodiversity policy at the World Wildlife Fund, told CNN. "We're also the last generation with the opportunity to influence the course of many of those changes. Now is the time to act, not halfheartedly and incrementally but drastically and boldly."

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