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Humanity should do all that it can to ward off threat of its extinction



A recent UN report revealed that humanity is squandering the natural capital that has allowed society to thrive, driving a million species to the brink of extinction.

Relentless plundering and poisoning of the earth’s bounty — wildlife, air, soil and forests — threaten societies at least as much as climate change.

The accelerating pace of extinction over the past 10 million years could tip Planet Earth into the first mass extinction since non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

Halting and reversing the dire trends will require transformative change, a sweeping overhaul of the way we produce and consume, especially food.

Drawing from 15,000 sources and an underlying 1,800-page report, the executive summary detailed how our growing footprint and appetites have compromised the natural renewal of resources that sustain civilisation — such as fresh water, breathable air and productive soil.

But climate change and biodiversity loss feed off each other in a vicious cycle. That is why deforestation and industrial agriculture are major drivers of species and ecosystem decline but also account for at least a quarter of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. But then, global warming is pushing animals and plants out of their comfort zones and intensifies the kind of heatwaves and drought that have fuelled unprecedented fires.

The huge tracts of land needed to grow energy crops on a scale twice the size of India would clash with the expansion of protected areas and reforestation efforts, not to mention food production. This is the reason we should be careful when it comes to the future that is before us.

Njuguna G. Kimani, Kiambu

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