At Risk Wildlife Affects Billions
By: Jessica Wang
Some people do cruel things that help cause extinction and harm to nature, like illegal hunting, pollution, and climate change. The IPBES (Intergovernmental Policy on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) wrote a report saying that Earth is on its way to losing 12% of its wild tree species, one thousand mammal species, and 450 shark and sting-ray species. 1 out of 5 people of 7 billion people in the world depend on almost 50,000 wild species regularly to survive, and 1 out of 3 people depend on wood from trees for warmth and to cook.
Roughly 15 billion trees are cut down each year, the global number of trees dropping by 46%. Many endangered animals are forced to find new homes and become vulnerable to attacks.
Farming, mining, drilling, and wildfires are some causes of deforestation, when people cut down or remove forests. Mining and drilling produces pollution and clears forests in order to get minerals out of the ground. Wildfires are especially harmful, directly burning trees to the ground, forcing all animals to move and spreading smoke and ash into the environment.
Wildlife in the oceans, lakes, and rivers are also at risk. Fresh water is only 2.5% in the 70% of the total water existing on Earth. 80% of the pollution is caused by domestic sewage, or waste from humans.
Overfishing causes a change in the food chain– without fish, the main prey of many predators, many species would go extinct. Water pollution forces animals to move to another body of water. However, many animals try to adapt and end up getting stuck in the trash, like plastic bags or cans.
Climate change is also a factor. Rising temperatures cause difficulty for animals to find food and protect themselves from invasive species. Wildlife that can move will find another habitat they are comfortable in, and the rest can only adapt. Some species will struggle to fill their stomachs with food and some species will expand their territory and food sources.
“If wildlife disappears, our culture is at risk, our lifestyle and our livelihood is at risk,” says Viviana Figueroa, an Argentine Indigenous lawyer. Taking small steps to prevent the extinction of animals, pollution, and climate change will dramatically affect our future. “We have to make sure these policy instruments benefit everybody,” states Emma Archer, a professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. “There doesn’t have to be both winners and losers.”