Skip to Content
Climate change

Human activity is threatening one million species with extinction

A man dressed as the grim reaper
A man dressed as the grim reaperAssociated Press

Biodiversity, which humans depend upon for their existence, is declining faster than at any other time in human history, according to a new report 

The study: Natural ecosystems have lost about half of their territory, and about a quarter of the animal and plant groups that were assessed are under threat, according to the report from the UN-backed Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). It’s a trend that has accelerated over the last 50 years, primarily driven by fishing and agriculture.

The 1,800-page report, compiled by 400 scientists, draws from 15,000 studies. It’s the result of three years of study and collaboration around the world. This loss of biodiversity poses a serious risk to global food security and access to fresh water, both of which are obviously vital for human survival.

Climate change: It’s a direct driver of the changes the report identifies. Even if global warming can be kept within the Paris Agreement target of less than 2 °C, the ranges of most species will shrink profoundly, the study warns.

What do we do? The assessment has been approved by 132 governments, but we’re yet to see any concrete policy changes as a result. The authors say only “transformative” changes will reverse the trend. The issue of biodiversity loss is on the G8 agenda for the first time this year. We must hope the stark warnings in the report help to sharpen minds.

Sign up here to get your dose of the latest must-read news from the world of emerging tech in our daily newsletter The Download.

Deep Dive

Climate change

China’s heat wave is creating havoc for electric vehicle drivers

The country is a leader in EV adoption, but extreme weather is exposing weaknesses in its charging infrastructure.

We must fundamentally rethink “net-zero” climate plans. Here are six ways.

Corporate climate plans are too often a mix of fuzzy math, flawed assumptions, and wishful thinking.

This is what’s keeping electric planes from taking off

Batteries could power planes, but weight will limit how far they fly.

The US agency in charge of developing fossil fuels has a new job: cleaning them up

The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management has a new name, new leaders, and a new mandate to meet Joe Biden’s climate goals.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.