The New Scientist
May 2, 2006
New Red List paints bleak picture of extinction
By Duncan Graham-Rowe
Two out of every five species on the planet that have been assessed by scientists face extinction, according to the latest World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Overall, 16,119 animal and plant species are in danger of extinction, including 1 in 8 birds, 1 in 4 mammals and 1 in 3 amphibian species. Since records began, 784 species have been declared extinct. From the poles to the deserts, “biodiversity loss is increasing, not slowing down,” says IUCN director-general Achim Steiner.
The main cause, as ever, is people, as humanity impacts the world’s fauna and flora both directly and indirectly. While hunting and habitat loss continue to have a disastrous effect on species numbers, global warming is emerging as another threat.