ARCHITECTURAL MARVEL - The roof and front of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault are adorned with stainless steel prisms and mirrors. As light reflects off them, they emit a ghostly glow that changes throughout the days and seasons. All around the world, mankind is hacking enormous branches off the tree of life. Since the last ice age– which ended about 10,000 years ago –the extinction rates of species of plants, mammals, birds, insects, amphibians and reptiles have skyrocketed, with one estimate putting the current rate of loss at up to 140,000 species per year. That’s a problem – not just for the species that are dying out, but for humans, too. We depend on our companions for food security, clean water, clothing, and even the air we breathe.
In 2009, the Stockholm Resilience Centre listed biodiversity loss as one of nine ‘planetary boundaries’ that cannot be crossed without the world suffering irreversible environmental change (other boundaries includeozone depletion, climate change, and ocean acidification). Without Earth’s biodiversity, humans wouldn’t be here at all. And even the most conservative estimates of species loss show cause for alarm.
It’s a very clear sign that we’re entering a sixth mass extinction event
Dr Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University
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