United Nations Report Highlights Mass Extinction

In this Friday, March 2, 2018 file photo, keeper Zachariah Mutai attends to Fatu, one of only two female northern white rhinos left in the world, in the pen where she is kept for observation, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya. According to four new United Nations scientific reports on biodiversity released on Friday, March 23, 2018, Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate.
In this Friday, March 2, 2018 file photo, keeper Zachariah Mutai attends to Fatu, one of only two female northern white rhinos left in the world, in the pen where she is kept for observation, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya. According to four new United Nations scientific reports on biodiversity released on Friday, March 23, 2018, Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate. Sunday Alamba / AP Photo
In this Friday, March 2, 2018 file photo, keeper Zachariah Mutai attends to Fatu, one of only two female northern white rhinos left in the world, in the pen where she is kept for observation, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya. According to four new United Nations scientific reports on biodiversity released on Friday, March 23, 2018, Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate.
In this Friday, March 2, 2018 file photo, keeper Zachariah Mutai attends to Fatu, one of only two female northern white rhinos left in the world, in the pen where she is kept for observation, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya. According to four new United Nations scientific reports on biodiversity released on Friday, March 23, 2018, Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate. Sunday Alamba / AP Photo

United Nations Report Highlights Mass Extinction

Since 1500, at least 680 vertebrate species worldwide have gone extinct — and the situation is only becoming more dire, according to a new United Nations assessment to be published later this year. A summary of the report’s findings was released Monday in Paris. Notably, the report identifies the critical role of indigenous peoples in helping to stop environmental destruction. It also points to the increasing threats to amphibian species, reef-forming corals and marine mammals. “Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing,” said Professor Josef Settele of Germany, who co-chaired the assessment. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.” The report’s authors also ranked “the five direct drivers of change in nature with the largest relative global impacts so far.” These include changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species. Joining Worldview to provide additional insight into the report and what it tells us about the world around us is Andrew Wetzler, deputy chief program officer and managing director of the Nature Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.