A growing body of evidence has sounded the alarm that the biodiversity that supports and sustains life on Earth is at risk. Habitat destruction, resource exploitation, and climate change are among the many stressors that have put 1 million species under threat of extinction and sharply reduced the populations of many plant and animal species. While researchers and global leaders ramp up efforts to address this existential threat, the significance of species loss and the value of preserving biodiversity is not widely recognized by policy makers or the public. This booklet, produced by an international committee of experts, provides a publicly accessible overview of the many dimensions of biodiversity and why it’s vital to the health of all life on the planet. The booklet also examines the causes of biodiversity loss and presents actions that can be taken from the individual to the global level to stop this decline.
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Altered climate conditions have already been linked to changes in wildlife distribution, reproduction and behavior. As temperatures continue to warm and precipitation patterns shift, these fluctuations will continue. Enhancing connectivity and “conserving the stage” are critical conservation objectives that can help species adapt to changing conditions.
Climate change is quickly becoming the biggest threat to the long-term survival of America’s wildlife. No longer is climate change something only facing future generations—changes to our climate are being documented all across the planet today, and people, animals, and plants are already feeling the heat. This warming signal is also found in ocean temperatures, soil temperatures, melting glaciers, and melting polar ice caps. It has been linked to widespread impacts on ecosystems around the planet. This preponderance of evidence all points to the conclusion that our planet is warming, and natural systems are struggling to keep up.
Climate change is among the greatest threats to biodiversity on our planet. It is already having devastating effects on both human and natural communities. Extreme weather events like heat waves, intense storms and prolonged droughts are on the rise, taking scores of lives and causing billions of dollars in damage each year. Wildlife are also experiencing new and intensified threats.
As anthropogenic climate change continues the risks to biodiversity will increase over time, with future projections indicating that a potentially catastrophic loss of global biodiversity is on the horizon1–3. However, our understanding of when and how abruptly this climate-driven disruption of biodiversity will occur is limited because biodiversity forecasts typically focus on individual snapshots of the future. Here we use annual projections
Human activity is killing nature at an unprecedented rate. We are now experiencing the consequences in the form of a possible sixth mass extinction.
Impacts of climate change on ecosystems reduce their ability to improve water quality and regulate water flows. Rapid changes to ecosystems may cause the displacement or loss of many species. Timing of critical biological events is shifting, affecting species and habitats.
Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO) is the flagship publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It is a periodic report that summarizes the latest data on the status and trends of biodiversity and draws conclusions relevant to the further implementation of the Convention.
Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines
The strong focus on species extinctions, a critical aspect of the contemporary pulse of biological extinction, leads to a common misimpression that Earth’s biota is not immediately threa