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Many Species. One Planet. One Future.
Did you know that you are one in a million? Or more precisely, one of millions on this wondrous planet – anywhere in fact between an estimated 5 million to 100 million species. Scientist have only managed to identify about 2 million species so far. If you think about it, that means there a huge amount we still don’t know about our planet or whom we share it with. What we do know though is that humans are among only a handful of species whose populations are growing, while most animals and plants are becoming rarer and fewer.
A total of 17,291 species are known to be threatened with extinction – from little-known plants and insects to charismatic birds and mammals. This is just the tip of the iceberg; many species disappear before they are even discovered.
The reason? Human activities. With our present approach to development, we have caused the clearing of much of the original forest, drained half of the world’s wetlands, depleted three quarters of all fish stocks, and emitted enough heat-trapping gases to keep our planet warming for centuries to come. We have put our foot on the accelerator, making species extinctions occur at up to 1000 times the natural rate.
As a result, we are increasingly risking the loss of the very foundation of our own survival. The variety of life on our planet – known as ‘biodiversity’ – gives us our food, clothes, fuel, medicine and much, much more. You may not think that a beetle in your backyard or grass growing by the roadside has a fundamental connection to you – but it does. When even one species is taken out of the intricate web of life, the results can be catastrophic.
For this reason, the United Nations has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. It is an opportunity to stress the importance of biodiversity for human well-being, reflect on our achievements to safeguard it and encourage a redoubling of our efforts to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.
The theme of WED 2010 is “Many Species. One Planet. One Future.” It echoes the urgent call to conserve the diversity of life on our planet. A world without biodiversity is a very bleak prospect. Millions of people and millions of species all share the same planet, and only together can we enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.
As we celebrate WED, let us consider carefully the actions each of us must take, and then address ourselves to our common task of preserving all life on Earth.
Through WED, we can employ our individual and collective power to stem the tide of extinction. Our conservation action has brought some species back from the brink, and has restored some vital natural habitats around the world. On WED, let us resolve to do much more, and much faster, to win the race against extinction!