The risk of extinction from manmade toxins

The good news: 110 new species discovered. The bad news: 120,372 animal & plant species are on the Red List. And that is mostly down to manmade toxins.

In the past 20 years, we managed to find over 2,500 new species across the globe, 110 in the past two years alone – according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund WWF. Despite that, the extinction of many other species is moving forward in painfully large steps. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed a current total of 120,372 animal and plant species as scientifically endangered.

Over a quarter of those are in the ‘most threatened’ category. Georg Scattolin from the WWF warns that “This mass extinction is manmade. We pollute, overbuild and overexploit our nature at record speed. Not only does this harm countless animals, but ultimately robs us of our own livelihood.” Even the common hamster is under threat now worldwide.

Adding to the crisis are power plants: A new WWF study shows that more than 500 dams are planned within protected areas worldwide. This could lead to an acceleration in species extinction due to this wave of river barriers. In Austria, for example, almost every third new hydropower project is planned in a protected area.

An investigation by Public Eye and Unearthed, Greenpeace UK’s investigation unit, recently uncovered that the EU exports pesticides which are classed as too dangerous for use in Europe. The two non-governmental organisations speak of “the hypocrisy of allowing agrochemical companies to flood low and middle-income countries with substances deemed too dangerous for European agriculture”.

One can feel overwhelmed by all these reports streaming in. But we are not helpless. To create a better future for those generations that follow us, we just need to apply mindfulness. Do we have to drink bottled water or is tap water good enough, if need be, purified at home? If you are looking for alternatives to that monstrous plastic bottle of fabric conditioner, they are out there – cheaper, smaller, better. We can also monitor our energy consumption at home, lighting, heating, appliances – once it’s in our minds, it’s easy to do.

It’s a steep long ladder but made of many small and manageable steps.

Gérard Fabrice Guminski - Climateq - September 2021

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