A million species face extinction—and the threat to humans reminds us we're all connected.

Throughout our planet's history, plant and animal species have died out—but not like this.

Earth has faced mass extinctions before, but she is now staring down a threat to life that she's never faced. With a population that has doubled since 1950, a global economy that relies on industrialization and consumerism, and our modern addiction to convenience, the impact humans are having on nature is significant and startling.


According to a new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), about a million plant and animals species are now on the verge of extinction. Nearly 150 authors from 50 nations compiled the report over a period of three years, as 300 contributing authors helped to estimate future effects of economic development on the environment.

Let's just say those future effects are not looking good.

“The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment, from a wide range of different fields of knowledge, presents an ominous picture," said IPBES Chair, Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide."

We can't destroy the environment without destroying ourselves.

Some people complain when environmentalists seem to focus more on endangered animals than on immediate human challenges, such as poverty or hunger. Why focus on saving coral reefs when people are dying preventable deaths?

But the long view clearly connects the fate of plant and animal species to our own. Destroying habitats and ecosystems doesn't just threaten wildlife—it disrupts the systems in nature that we rely on for things like food and water. Hunger and thirst have a way of making people desperate—and violent. Throw in diseases perpetuated by malnutrition and the security issues our military leaders have attributed to climate change, and these endangered species no longer seem like such an afterthought.

In fact, Watson says that the implications for humans is the most vital outcome of the report.

“The most important thing isn't necessarily that we're losing . . . 1 million species — although that's important, don't misunderstand me," Watson said during a teleconference, according to the Washington Post. “The bigger issue is the way it will affect human well-being, as we've said many times—food, water, energy, human health."

Ironically, our industrial efforts to feed ourselves may be leading us toward greater food insecurity.

There are multiple manmade reasons these species face extinction, most of which are intertwined. But a big one is our farming, fishing, and food preparation practices.

Pollution and overuse of fossil fuels has contributed to rapid climate change and ocean acidification, which in turn impact our ability to fish sustainably. Overfishing has depleted many aquatic species, affecting aquatic food chains. Forests are being replaced by farms to feed a growing population, but we destroy the balance of nature in the process. That imbalance, in addition to the pesticides used to protect crops, affects insects that we rely on to pollinate our crops.

In a bizarre bit of human contradiction, we're killing ourselves to feed ourselves. And it's catching up to us quickly.

Scientists tell us it's not too late to act, but we do need to act—and convince our governments to take the lead.

Many people have become immune to warnings when it comes to the environment, especially as many politicians use climate change as a political football instead of a reason to unite. Some people think the U.N. is on some mission to control the masses and that governments are using climate change as an excuse to bilk us out of our hard-earned dollars.

That's why you listen to scientists, not politicians. And the vast majority of the world's scientists—the people who study this stuff as their life's work—agree that we have to figure out a more sustainable model of human activity or risk our own safety and security.

“Since 1992, we've been telling the world we have a problem," Watson said. “Now what's different? It's much worse today than it was in 1992. We've wasted all of the time . . . the last 25 years."

However, he added, “we have a much better understanding of the links between climate change, biodiversity, and food security and water security."

It's long past time to start putting that knowledge into meaningful action. Let's encourage our governments to work together on a collective plan to save the earth's endangered species—before we become one of them.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Jules Lipoff / Twitter

Weronika Jachimowicz, 17, is getting a lot of attention for subverting people's expectations of who excels in high school. And that's exactly what she wants.

Jachimowicz was named New York's Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District's 2021 salutatorian. Her yearbook photo next to valedictorian Luke Altman is going viral because of her dramatic Goth makeup and attire.

It all started when assistant professor and writer Dr. Jules Lipoff tweeted out a photo of the valedictorian and salutatorian he saw in a newspaper and it went viral. How many salutatorians have you seen that wear pentagram hoop earrings, a choker, and black devil horns?

The juxtaposition of her next to the bowtie-wearing Altman, makes the photo even more amusing.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less