The Age of Extinction

Scientists predict that at least a third and as much as two-thirds of the world’s species could be on their way to extinction by the end of this century. Given the enormous economic costs and human suffering that this implies, the world’s richest countries must go beyond studying the problem and make a significant down payment on solving it.

This year’s G8 summit in Germany was unusual in that, a month later, people are still talking about whether or not it achieved anything. But one breakthrough at the summit is undeniable: amidst all the talk of economic growth and exchange rates, a new statistic appeared on the agenda of the world’s richest countries: extinction rates.

For the first time, the leaders of the world’s most powerful nations took notice of a constituency that they have largely ignored – the wild animals, fish, and plants that make up all the millions of living species on the planet besides humans.

Scientists predict that at least a third and as much as two-thirds of the world’s species could be on their way to extinction by the end of this century, mostly because people are destroying tropical forests and other habitats, over-fishing the oceans, and changing the global climate.

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