species loss

Every hour, approximately 2000 hectares of natural habitat, mostly forest, and one known and documented species (plus many more that are unknown), is extincted by human action.

increasing rate

The rate of species loss has sharply accelerated in the 20th century and most scientists believe that Earth is in the midst of the sixth great mass extinction, which would be intensely accelerated by climate change.

humans causing it

Scientists agree that current extinction rates are far higher than "natural" ones because of human activities such as pollution, habitat destruction, and greenhouse gas emissions that have been linked to climate change. The World Conservation Union claims 800 plant and animal species have become extinct since 1500, when accurate historical and scientific records began.

This is less than 0.05 percent of known species but represents only those species known and named.

unsure how many exist, or go extinct

How many species go extinct, and how fast, became a political issue when the United Nations agreed in 2002 to reduce the rate at which animals and plants are disappearing by 2010. Experts met in March 2006 to discuss ways to slow the loss of species. Agreeing on how to measure this is difficult since there is no consensus on how many species there are.

According to the Collins English Dictionary, a species is "a class of plants or animals whose members have the same main characteristics and are able to breed with each other."

"The implication of not knowing exactly how many species there are is that we can't tell if we are actually making progress on the 2010 target," said Jeff McNeely, chief scientist at the World Conservation Union. "Some people who study insects think there may be as many as 100 million species out there," said Jeff McNeely, "But if you took a poll of biologists, I think most would say there are somewhere around 15 million,". http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060317/sc_nm/environment_species_dc

1.7 million species identified and named

Around 1.7 million plant and animal species have been identified and named by scientists. Most that walked, crawled, swam or flew at some point are now extinct.

0.1% of all that ever existed

"There are millions of different species of animals and plants on earth — possibly as many as 40 million. But somewhere between 5 and 50 billion species have existed at one time or another," writes paleontologist David Raup in his book "Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck?." "Thus, only about 1 in 1,000 species is still alive — a truly lousy survival record; 99.9 percent failure!"

types most endangered

Some types of animals are more endangered than others. A third of described amphibian species are endangered compared to about 12 percent of bird and 23 percent of mammal species.

whooping crane case

While a few species like the whooping crane and ivory-billed woodpecker have recovered slightly in North America, they remain critically endangered as there is only one known population of each. Efforts to increase the numbers of such species have been extraordinarily expensive and difficult. For instance, to convince 8 whooping cranes to form the second suck flock in the world, required months of training and care, 10 ground vehicles and 3 ultralights acting as surrogate mothers taking 7 weeks to lead the birds to Florida. The next year they found their way back on their own. While this is remarkable as a feat of human ingenuity, "success demands that we do even more," according to the World Wildlife Fund. 20 more years of such work is required to make the species safe - highlighting the extraordinary difficulty of such work.

The Wildlife Rescue Team of the WWF took five species off the endangered species list, worldwide. This does not compare to over 350 per year that are known to cease to exist, and many thousands per year presumed to disappear with each hectare of rainforest.


There have also been primate extinctions in Africa, and Great Ape species remain critically threatened. As these are near-humans and many people favour ape personhood, there are strong arguments that these are a very high priority to save.

measure effort instead?

Rather than trying to measure species loss directly, or measure biodiversity, a much more abstract measure, other measurements are considered.

"What we can measure is how hard we are trying. Measures of effort may be a more useful indicator than estimated rates of species loss," said McNeely. "For example, we can measure the number of new protected areas being established and ask if they have sufficient budgets."

relation to money system

Most experts believe that the existing global monetary system promotes extinction by requiring land use and control as a condition of credit: the Bretton Woods system of monetary exchange strongly promote species loss and extinction, as, the store of value in this system is based on land ownership and corporate wealth - as reflected in the BIS standards. And, furthermore, on the military control of territory as reflected by the "arsenal of freedom" and the US dollar. Thus each gain measured in money might well be some species loss risk increased.