Over four months this spring, James Watson and Sean Maxwell, a doctoral student at the University of Queensland, used [some] new data to identify and rank the existential threats to nearly nine thousand species, ranging from otters to lilies.
In a commentary published today in the journal Nature, they report that almost three-quarters of the species they studied are threatened by over-exploitation—human activities such as logging, fishing, and hunting.
More than sixty per cent are threatened by the conversion of habitat to farmland and timber plantations. (Many species face multiple threats.)
Less than twenty per cent, however, are currently endangered by the many effects of climate change—drought, extreme temperatures, severe storms, and flooding.
Like other conservationists, Watson and Maxwell were already well aware that poaching and agriculture posed serious threats to many species.
But even they were surprised by how dramatically the effects outstripped those of climate change.
Much like the causes of human death, the current causes of species loss appear to be inversely proportional to the media attention—and, to some extent, the research and funding attention—they receive.
Same old, same old. No surprise there.
Habitat loss and over-hunting, on the other hand, are stories almost as old as humanity. They rarely make news—until it’s too late for the species involved.
I think you'll enjoy this next bit. I changed the formatting a little.