Published on September 30, 2009
Section Nature / Non Human Stories
If someone told you the amount of money in your bank account was going to decrease somewhere between 100 and 1,000 times in the next year, the sheer uncertainty of that loss would send you into a panic. That rate is the same speed at which scientists estimate global warming and human pollution are affecting animal extinction each year — yet we all remain oddly at ease.
The World Conservation Union, known as the IUCN, recently released its yearly Red List of species that are facing a higher risk of global extinction. The IUCN lists these species into groups including Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable… categories not too different from those I use to balance my own checking account!
This year the IUCN added 188 new species for a grand total of 16,300 animals, plants, and marine life at risk. According to Craig Hilton-Tailor the Red List’s Manager, this number is still extremely low. “We’ve only really looked at the tip of the iceberg in terms of species that are out there and known to science.” While scientists estimate there could be nearly 15 million species in the world, only 1.8 million are confirmed to exist. Although the IUCN is the world’s largest conservation network, spanning 83 states, 110 international government agencies, 800 private organizations, 10,000 scientists, and 181 countries, they still only have the resources to review just above 40,000 species a year. So what does all this number crunching really mean?