Climate Change is not our biggest problem

An outside observer might be forgiven for thinking that our biggest, and maybe even our only environmental problem is climate change. While we agree that human caused climate change is indeed a huge problem looming on the horizon (and for many, far closer even than that), we dare not ignore the other crisis that is upon us, the biodiversity crisis. We have just posted a story about the shocking decline in monarch butterflies. Along with that, we would add the following items:

First, from EcoWatch:

A new survey of 3,331 scientists studying biodiversity across 187 countries has revealed that more species are threatened with extinction than previously thought. As many as 50% of species have been threatened with extinction or driven to extinction since 1500, according to survey results.

And along with that, this fascinating journal article from Conservation Letters, journal of the Society for Conservation Biology:

The current perception that climate change is the principal threat to biodiversity is at best premature. Although highly relevant, it detracts focus and effort from the primary threats: habitat destruction and overexploitation. We collated causes of vertebrate extinctions since 1900, threat information for amphibia, birds, and mammals from the IUCN Red List, and scrutinized others’ attempts to compare climate change with commensurate anthropogenic threats. In each analysis, none of the arguments founded on climate change’s wide-ranging effects are as urgent for biodiversity as those for habitat loss and overexploitation. Present conservation efforts must refocus on these issues. Conserving ecosystems by focusing on these major threats not only protects biodiversity but is the only available, economically viable, global strategy to reverse climate change.

Do we need to continue to fight climate change? Absolutely, including with our prayers. But let us not lose sight of the fact that there are threats that are greater, more urgent, and potentially more devastating than climate change alone. In light of this situation, we applaud our friends at A Rocha for consistently making the biodiversity crisis one of their top strategic concerns.