UN reports see a lonelier planet with fewer plants, animals

Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate, according to four new United Nations scientific reports that provide the most comprehensive and localized look at the state of biodiversity.

Scientists meeting in Colombia issued four regional reports on how well animal and plants are doing in the Americas; Europe and Central Asia; Africa; and the Asia-Pacific area. Their conclusion after three years of study : Nowhere is doing well.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem was about more than just critters. It is about keeping Earth livable for humans, because we rely on biodiversity for food, clean water and public health.

What’s happening is a side effect of the world getting wealthier and more crowded with people. Humans need more food, more clean water, more energy and more land. And the way society has tried to achieve that has cut down on biodiversity. Man-made climate change is getting worse, and global warming will soon hurt biodiversity as much as all the other problems combined.

If current trends continue, by the year 2050 the Americas will have 15 percent fewer plants and animals than now. That means there will be 40 percent fewer plants and animals in the Americas than in the early 1700s. Nearly a quarter of the species that were fully measured are now threatened.

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