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Crisis of LIfe

Biodiversity Crisis

The biomass of terrestrial vegetation worldwide has halved over human history 3, with a corresponding loss of more than 20% of this realm’s original biodiversity (References follow) 1.

More than 70% of the Earth’s land surface has been altered by humans 1.

There have been over 700 vertebrate 1, and nearly 600 plant 4, extinctions recorded since the 16th Century, and many more species have likely gone extinct unnoticed 5.

Massive population declines that are the precursors to extinction have also occurred worldwide; since only 1970, more than 60% of all terrestrial vertebrate individuals have disappeared 6, such that there are now at least one million species threatened with extinction6 out of an estimated 7.3 – 10.0 million eukaryotic species on the planet 7.

The total global biomass of wild animals today is < 25% of what it was during the Late Pleistocene8, and even insect species appear to be in rapid decline in many parts of the world 9-13.

There is now less than 15% of the original wetland area that was present during the 18th Century 14, and over three-quarters of rivers more than 1000 km long no longer flow freely along their entire course 15.

Over two-thirds of ocean area has been compromised to some extent by human endeavour 16

Live coral cover on reefs has halved since the mid-19th Century 17, seagrass extent has been decreasing by 10% per decade over the last century 1, kelp forests have declined by nearly 40%18, and the biomass of large predatory fishes is now less than a third of what it was last century 19.

Of the estimated 0.17 Gt of biomass of terrestrial vertebrates on Earth today, most of this is represented by livestock (59%) and living human beings (36%) — only about 5% of this total biomass is taken up by wild mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians8.

Even our domesticated species are in decline — some 10% of domesticated breeds of mammals have become extinct in human history, with more than 1000 others threatened with extinction 20

Even cultivated plants are becoming threatened, with about 200 cultivated species threatened with extinction 21, and a global homogenisation of food crop species used to feed the world over the last 50 years 22.

All this means that we are now without a doubt well within a sixth mass extinction event.

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Endangered species


Next time someone you know argues that the natural world isn’t that poorly off, you can show them this rather depressing list of facts to the contrary. -- CJA Bradshaw


1. Díaz et al. Pervasive human-driven decline of life on Earth points to the need for transformative change. Science 366, eaax3100 (2019)

2. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. (IPBES Secretariat, Paris, France, 2019)

3. Erb et al. Unexpectedly large impact of forest management and grazing on global vegetation biomass. Nature 553, 73-76 (2018)

4. Humphreys et al. Global dataset shows geography and life form predict modern plant extinction and rediscovery. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 3, 1043-1047 (2019)

5. Tedesco et al. Estimating how many undescribed species have gone extinct. Conserv. Biol. 28, 1360-1370 (2014)

6. WWF. Living Planet Report 2016. (WWF, Gland, Switzerland, 2016)

7. Mora et al. How many species are there on Earth and in the ocean? PLoS Biol. 9, e1001127 (2011)

8. Bar-On et al. The biomass distribution on Earth. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115, 6506 (2018)

9. Bidau. Doomsday for insects? The alarming decline of insect populations around the world. Entomol. Ornithol. Herpetol. 7, 1000e1130 (2018)

10. Hallmann et al. More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas. PLoS One 12, e0185809 (2017)

11. Lister & Garcia. Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115, E10397 (2018)

12. Powney et al. Widespread losses of pollinating insects in Britain. Nat. Comm. 10, 1018 (2019)

13.Forister et al. Declines in insect abundance and diversity: we know enough to act now. Conserv. Sci. Pract. 1, e80 (2019)

14. Davidson. How much wetland has the world lost? Long-term and recent trends in global wetland area. Mar. Freshw. Res. 65, 934-941 (2014)

15. Grill et al. Mapping the world’s free-flowing rivers. Nature 569, 215-221 (2019)

16. Halpern et al. Patterns and emerging trends in global ocean health. PLoS One 10, e0117863 (2015)

17. Frieler et al. Limiting global warming to 2 °C is unlikely to save most coral reefs. Nat. Clim. Change 3, 165-170 (2013)

18. Krumhansl et al. Global patterns of kelp forest change over the past half-century. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 113, 13785 (2016)

19. Christensen et al. A century of fish biomass decline in the ocean. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 512, 155-166 (2014)

20. FAO. The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, 2016)

21. Hammer & Khoshbakht. Towards a ‘red list’ for crop plant species. Genet. Resour. Crop Evol. 52, 249-265 (2005)

22. Khoury et al. Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111, 4001 (2014)


Earth is in our hands

Humanity must act to nurture, preserve & protect life on Earth

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Planet Citizens

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The Hidden Universe

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Nature is sending a message --- "Act Now to Protect the Living Earth Before It's Too Late"

A Generational Challenge:

Act Now to Protect Biodiversity, Life on Earth

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'Bug Eyes' says now is the 'Time to Open Your Eyes'


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With your GreenPolicy Siterunner in Santa Fe circa 1989 on All Species Day. Looking back and looking forward to the challenges of affirming and protecting diversity of life in the midst of the "Sixth Extinction"

Santa Fe ('holy faith' in Spanish) named in memory of the 'holy faith of St. Francis of Assisi', a patron saint of animals and the environment.

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Human Population and the Loss of Biodiversity

A Bibliography of Recent Scientific Work on Population and Biodiversity Conservation

"Overpopulation is a major cause of biodiversity loss and smaller human populations are necessary to preserve what is left."

Entries include publication data, a hot link to the source, and a one-sentence description.


Earth is in midst of a 'Sixth Mass Extinction' with wildlife on Earth running out of places to live

60 Minutes / CBS / January 1, 2023

In what year will the human population grow too large for the Earth to sustain? The answer is about 1970, according to research by the World Wildlife Fund. In 1970, the planet's 3 and a half billion people were sustainable. But on this New Year's Day, the population is 8 billion. Today, wild plants and animals are running out of places to live. The scientists you're about to meet say the Earth is suffering a crisis of mass extinction on a scale unseen since the dinosaurs. We're going to show you a possible solution, but first, have a look at how humanity is already suffering from the vanishing wild.

In Washington state, the Salish Sea helped feed the world. 

Dana Wilson: With this weather and the way things feel once I get out here, it's time to be fishing, that's what it feels like.

Commercial fisherman Dana Wilson supported a family on the Salish Sea's legendary wealth of salmon. He remembers propellers churning the water off blaine, washington and cranes straining for the state's 200 million dollar annual catch. 

Dana Wilson: That used to be a buying station, they're gone now, they don't buy anymore. So, that building over there used to buy salmon, they don't buy salmon anymore, it's just not here. 

In 1991, one salmon species was endangered. Today, 14 salmon populations are foundering. They've been crowded out of rivers by habitat destruction, warming, and pollution. Dana Wilson used to fish all summer. Today, a conservation authority grants rare, fleeting, permission to throw a net. 

Scott Pelley: There was a season.

Dana Wilson: There was a season.

Scott Pelley: Now there's a day?

Dana Wilson: There's a day, and sometimes it's hours. Sometimes you might get 12 hours, 16 hours. that's what we're down to.


Too many people, too much consumption and growth mania.

At the age of 90, biologist Paul Ehrlich may have lived long enough to see some of his dire prophecies come true. 

Scott Pelley: You seem to be saying that humanity is not sustainable?

Paul Ehrlich: Oh, humanity is not sustainable. To maintain our lifestyle (yours and mine, basically) for the entire planet, you'd need five more Earths. Not clear where they're gonna come from.

Scott Pelley: Just in terms of the resources that would be required?

Paul Ehrlich: Resources that would be required, the systems that support our lives, which of course are the biodiversity that we're wiping out. Humanity is very busily sitting on a limb that we're sawing off.

In 1968, Ehrlich, a biology professor at Stanford, became a doomsday celebrity with a bestseller forecasting the collapse of nature.

Scott Pelley: When "The Population Bomb" came out, you were described as an alarmist.

Paul Ehrlich: I was alarmed. I am still alarmed. All of my colleagues are alarmed.

The alarm Ehrlich sounded in '68 warned that overpopulation would trigger widespread famine. He was wrong about that. The green revolution fed the world. But he also wrote in '68 that heat from greenhouse gases would melt polar ice and humanity would overwhelm the wild. Today, humans have taken over 70% of the planet's land and 70% of the freshwater.

Paul Ehrlich: The rate of extinction is extraordinarily high now and getting higher all the time.

We know the rate of extinction is 'extraordinarily high' because of a study of the fossil record by biologist Tony Barnosky, Ehrlich's Stanford colleague. 

Tony Barnosky: The data are rock solid. I don't think you'll find a scientist that will say we're not in an extinction crisis.

Barnosky's research suggests today's rate of extinction is up to 100 times faster than is typical in the nearly 4 billion year history of life. These peaks represent the few times that life collapsed globally. And the last was the dinosaurs, 66 million years ago.

Tony Barnosky: There are five times in Earth's history where we had mass extinctions. And by mass extinctions, I mean at least 75%, three quarters of the known species disappearing from the face of the Earth. Now we're witnessing what a lot of people are calling the sixth mass extinction where the same thing could happen on our watch.


Scott Pelley: Is it too much to say that we're killing the planet?

Liz Hadly: No. 

Tony Barnosky: I would say it is too much to say that we're killing the planet, because the planet's gonna be fine. What we're doing is we're killing our way of life. 

The worst of the killing is in Latin America where the World Wildlife Fund study says the abundance of wildlife has fallen 94% since 1970. But it was also in Latin America that we found the possibility of hope. 

Mexican ecologist Gerardo Ceballos is one of the world's leading scientists on extinction. He told us the only solution is to save the one third of the Earth that remains wild....

Gerardo Ceballos: What we will have to do is to really understand that the climate change and the species extinction is a threat to humanity. And then put all the machinery of society: political, economic, and social, towards finding solutions to the problems.

Finding solutions to the problems was the goal, two weeks ago, at the U.N. Biodiversity Conference, where nations agreed to conservation targets. But at the same meeting in 2010, those nations agreed to limit the destruction of the Earth by 2020—and not one of those goals was met. This, despite thousands of studies including the continuing research of Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich.

Scott Pelley: You know that there is no political will to do any of the things that you're recommending.

Paul Ehrlich: I know there's no political will to do any of the things that I'm concerned with, which is exactly why I and the vast majority of my colleagues think we've had it; that the next few decades will be the end of the kind of civilization we're used to. 

In the 50 years since Ehrlich's population bomb, humanity's feasting on resources has tripled. We're already consuming 175% of what the Earth can regenerate. And, consider, half of humanity, about four billion, live on less than $10 a day. They aspire to cars, air conditioning and a rich diet....

The five mass extinctions of the ancient past were caused by natural calamities—volcanoes, and an asteroid. Today, if the science is right, humanity may have to survive a sixth mass extinction in a world of its own making.


Saving Nature – And Humans Along with the Living Earth

When Linnaeus published his study in 1758, he recognized about 20,000 species in existence around the world. By 2009, according to the Australian Biological Resources Study, that number had reached almost 2 million. (E.O.) Wilson and other scientists believe the total number of species on Earth, both known and undiscovered, could reach 8-9 million. Linnaeus intended to describe them all. Wilson long ago took up that mantle. A lofty goal, but spend time around Wilson and you get used to seemingly impossible ideas. He frames what we don’t know about our planet and what lives on it as a thrilling mystery, an opportunity to learn rather than a problem too daunting or, worse, too late to confront...

Preserve and Protect: We Need an International Agreement to Set Aside Protected Lands and Seas

The Half-Earth Project Things Big and Sets Goals for Environmental Protection of Biodiversity


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Shifting Baselines

Challenge: To Preserve and Protect Life on Planet Earth


December 2022

Nations promise to protect 30 percent of planet to stem extinction

Delegates at the COP15 biodiversity summit in Canada make major conservation commitment to try to halt loss of hundreds of thousands of plants and animals. Will nations follow through?
GreenPolicy360: The question of questions is -- How will 'promises' by nations to protect life on Earth be enforced?

December 19, 2022

Via Washington Post

Today’s loss of biodiversity is being driven not by a space rock but by one species: humans. The loss of habitat, exploitation of species, climate change, pollution and destruction from invasive species moved by people between continents are all driving a decline in the variety of plants and animals...

Nations now have the next eight years to hit their targets for protecting life. With few legal mechanisms for enforcement, they will have to trust each other to protect habitats and funnel hundreds of billions of dollars over conservation.

“This is an incredible milestone for the world when it comes to conservation,” said Brian O’Donnell, the director of the conservation group Campaign for Nature. “We have been on a rapid path of destruction of nature for hundreds of years, and this can mark a turning point.”

The 10-year deal sets nearly two dozen targets. The banner commitment calls on nations to collectively conserve for wildlife at least 30 percent of land, inland waterways, and coastal and ocean areas by 2030 — the promise dubbed “30 by 30.”

“It’s a global goal. Every country commits what they are capable of committing,” said Masha Kalinina, a senior officer focused on biodiversity at the Pew Charitable Trusts. “Some will do more, some will do less.”

The world has a long way to go to achieving that goal. Right now, only about a sixth of the continents and a 12th of the oceans have some form of protection, according to the U.N.’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

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Associated Press


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In a Natural World, On a Living Planet

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December 27, 2021

Remembering E.O. Wilson and Thomas Lovejoy

We celebrate today the lives of two great ecologists: E.O. Wilson, who passed away on December 26 at the age of 92, and Tom Lovejoy, who passed away onDecember 25 at the age of 80. Each made extraordinary contributions to the field of bio-diversity and to the greater public dialog about humans and nature...

Tom and Ed, Pioneering Conservation Biology

Thomas Lovejoy and Edward O. Wilson

The two scientists first met in the mid-nineteen-seventies. At that point, Wilson was in his mid-forties, and teaching biology at Harvard. Lovejoy, a dozen years younger, was working for the World Wildlife Fund. Over lunch, they got to talking about where the W.W.F. should focus its efforts. They agreed that it should be in the tropics, because the tropics are where most species actually live. There wasn’t a good term for what they were trying to preserve, so they tossed one around—“biological diversity”—and put it into circulation. “People just started using it,” Lovejoy recalled, in an interview in 2015. (Later, the phrase would be shortened to “biodiversity.”)


Living Planet Report

We live in an age of rapid and unprecedented planetary change. Indeed, many scientists believe our ever-increasing consumption, and the resulting increased demand for energy, land and water, is driving a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. It’s the first time in the Earth’s history that a single species – Homo sapiens – has had such a powerful impact on the planet.

This rapid planetary change, referred to as the ‘Great Acceleration’, has brought many benefits to human society. Yet we now also understand that there are multiple connections between the overall rise in our health, wealth, food and security, the unequal distribution of these benefits and the declining state of the Earth’s natural systems. Nature, underpinned by biodiversity, provides a wealth of services, which form the building blocks of modern society; but both nature and biodiversity are disappearing at an alarming rate. Despite well-meaning attempts to stop this loss through global agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, we are failing; current targets and consequent actions amount, at best, to a managed decline. To achieve climate and sustainable development commitments, reversing the loss of nature and biodiversity is critical...

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An Unseen World

The 'Tiny Little Ones'

Microbiomes full of untapped secrets


It's All Related

SJS / GreenPolicy360 Siterunner: "It's all connected, it's all related"

Connections & Communities


Micro- to Macro- ... from the Tiny (as in Tiny Blue Green) 'Micro-Organisms' to the Largest 'Macro-Creatures'


Microscopic Diversity Across the Planet: the Oceans and Plankton

Everything in the ocean is connected, which means it has the potential to move around," says Chris Bowler, a National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) scientist at the Institut de Biologie de l'Ecole Normale Superieure (IBENS) in Paris and a co-senior author of the plankton study. "This makes it important to assemble everything on a global scale. Doing deep analysis also allows us to catch the rare organisms in the biosphere in addition to those that are more abundant."

"Our study focused on plankton because it's a major contributor to marine ecosystems in terms of biomass, abundance, and diversity," says co-senior author Lucie Zinger of IBENS. "All types of life have representatives in the plankton—bacteria, archaea, protists, animals and plants, as well as viruses. But the large majority of this diversity is invisible to the naked eye."

Biodiversity Topics / Wikipedia


Extinction Issues / GreenPolicy --

Trillions of (micro) species --

Microbial 'new' Tree of Life --

Do Insects Count? Who Cares About Insects, Right? Wrong?


Saving Species, Notes from the Edge

The botanists’ last stand: The daring work of saving the last samples of dying species

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Save a Butterfly, Save a Species --

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Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Announced September 2015 /

The first draft of ‘Tree of Life’ data diagrams include 2.3 million species -- The goal of reconstructing the tree of life is one of the most daunting challenges in biology. The scope of the problem is immense... most species have yet to be described. Despite decades of effort and thousands of phylogenetic studies on diverse clades, we lack a comprehensive tree of life, or even a summary of our current knowledge. One reason for this shortcoming is lack of data...

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The ecologist's field guide to sequence-based identification of biodiversity

Keywords: DNA sequencing; metabarcoding; metagenomics; metatranscriptomics; molecular ecology; biodiversity

All Species Day

Nature was always present... It was participant, impetus, and catalyst. It was the riches that made nations wealthy and powerful, and over which their armies; it was the wildness our ancestors insisted on taming, the scourge that left them despairing, and the blessing that kept them alive. How and where and by what design people built their homes and businesses depended on natural conditions and endowments. Inspirations for what people wrote and painted, what they wore, and said to each other, how they planned their day and spent their leisure time, and what they chose as a livelihood all flowed from an organic setting. Nature shaped strategies in war and gave form to economics, and its wealth or privation determined that of people and their enterprises.

-- The Gulf
by Jack E. Davis

It's Our Planet, It's Our Day

This year's Earth Day is Protect Our Species and draws draw attention to rapid global destruction and reduction of the world's plant and wildlife populations.

"All living things have an intrinsic value, and each plays a unique role in the complex web of life. We must work together to protect endangered and threatened species."

• April 22nd, Earth Day /

GreenPolicy360 Siterunner / Looking back to the first Earth Day, organizing and looking to the future

All Species projects build a sense of community while reestablishing our connection to the natural world.

GARY SNYDER, in his book "The Practice of the Wild", talks about riding in a pickup truck in Australia with an aborigine. As they were traveling along, the man was telling stories at an 'amazing pace, too fast for them to be told properly'. Snyder wonders why the hyperactive story-telling. He finally discovers that important knowledge of the man's tribe is recited as the tribe moves along in the bush. Each feature of the landscape relates to a specific story or part of a story.

At the speed of a moving pickup, of course, the stories had to be told faster....

Steven Schmidt -- human species
Santa Fe, NM


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A tip of the hat to the first Catholic pope to choose to name himself after St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment.

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Time to speak up in recognition of the pontiff's historic first-ever Catholic ecclesiastical document of environmental protection, his encompassing Laudato Si eco-encyclical offered in 2015 as the Catholic Church set forth a vision of green values and action.

Pope Francis on the Environment

Integral Ecology

Rights of Nature EarthLaw




Life in Its Diversity 360

Human species responsibility to preserve and protect

Citizen Science

Planet Citizens, Planet Scientists

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Accompany Don Perry and us into the richest biosphere, the rainforest canopy...

Let us take you on a journey into the treetops to see what hadn't been seen before...

Come along and open your eyes to the wonder and beauty of nature -- and humanity's place...

The Rainforest Canopy, Biodiversity in the "Cradle of Life"

Exploring the Rainforest, Richest Biosphere

SJS / GreenPolicy Siterunner:

January 2013

I want to say a few words about Don Perry, Dr. Perry, who swung in and posted a couple comments yesterday about climate change, global warming and its coming impacts.

Be aware, Don is not your standard scientist who has dwelt in academia, collecting accolades and plaudits for his lifetime of work and explorations of the bio-universe. Don has gone on from UCLA to literally change the way we see our world.

As I used to say about Don Perry, when we were working together back when I lived in LA and he was starting his career that would revolutionize the science of tropical forest study, Don is unique in his field, he's a pioneer (and "bioneer"), he's an explorer, an inventor. Don invented new techniques and methods for ascending and studying the 'real jungle', up above far from LA's glam, and proceeded to enable and show us what the resplendent, amazing rainforest, the richest biosphere on earth, the canopy, was like and it was wonderful... first-ever pictures and reports and science from on high. I was privileged to help as his representative and we saw Don's visions reach audiences around the world as he opened eyes to the eco-wonders of the environment we live in and the world we came from long ago, that is, if you believe in evolution...

Don was a "Jacques Cousteau of the Rainforest Canopy." I meant the words when I said them back the and still do today.

Don went up into the richest biosphere as no one had done before. His cameras, and science, his reporting from up there, brought to life a new, never seen world. We brought his work out and the richness of life was featured in Scientific American, National Geographic, Smithsonian, New York Sunday Times magazine, Life, Newsweek, Paris Match, Quick of Germany, Popular Science, and many more popular and scientific media.

The beginnings of canopy web research stay alive and continue on...


This category has the following 30 subcategories, out of 30 total.








  • Oceans(18 C, 87 P, 665 F)




  • Soil(6 C, 44 P, 414 F)




Pages in category "Biodiversity"

The following 156 pages are in this category, out of 156 total.

Media in category "Biodiversity"

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