Annual “Red List” of threatened species says lots of species are threatened

The World Conservation Union released its annual Red List of threatened species today, and it ain’t pretty. Some 15,589 species — 7,266 animals and 8,323 plants and lichens — are in danger, up more than 3,000 from just last year. Nearly an eighth of all birds, a quarter of mammals, a third of amphibians, and half of turtles and tortoises are on the chopping block. No doubt there are all sorts of factors at work, though, right? Uh, not so much: “[A] single species, ours, appears to be almost wholly responsible,” said the report. It traces the decline in biodiversity, which is currently between 100 and 1,000 times faster than the fossil record indicates is normal, to over-exploitation of resources, habitat loss, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and (you knew it was coming) global warming. Attempting to put a happy face on the grim report, researcher Simon Stuart emphasized that coordinated action has been shown effective in saving specific species. “Good things are achievable,” he said.