May 4, 2019

Earth faces mass extinctions

An inflatable planet Earth bounces around a climate-change rally in Sydney, Australia, in March. (Don Arnold/Getty Images)

Up to a million of Earth's estimated eight million species face extinction, many of them within decades, according to a UN report on biodiversity due out Monday.

The big picture: The 1,800-page report by 400 scientists says the pace of species loss "is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years," according to a draft obtained by Agence France-Presse.

And it's not just climate change, according to the report:

  • Humans "are undermining Earth's capacity to produce fresh water, clean air and productive soil."
  • "The direct causes of Nature's degradation — in order of importance — are shrinking habitat and land-use change, hunting for food or illicit trade in body parts, climate change, pollution, and predatory or disease-carrying alien species such as rats, mosquitoes and snakes."

Be smart: This report will likely be dismissed by many as fear mongering or alarmism. And there is a lot of progress and activism now on climate, marine conservation and other issues to suggest that the future foretold here may not come to pass.

  • But if scientists from a variety of disciplines have a shared bias, it has tended to make major assessment reports too conservative rather than too dire, especially when it comes to climate change. 

You can't really separate climate change from biodiversity loss, since one is driving the other — along with deforestation, overfishing, population growth and pollution, Freedman writes.

  • But the biodiversity crisis and dawning of the Sixth Great Extinction (this one driven largely by us), have until now garnered less global attention and focus from world leaders. This report is meant to change that. 
  • This panel is meant to be the biodiversity version of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Go deeper

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.

WHO temporarily suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization is temporarily pausing tests of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment in order to review safety concerns, the agency's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said Monday.

Why it matters: The decision comes after a retrospective review published in The Lancet found that coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 5,449,135 — Total deaths: 345,721 — Total recoveries — 2,188,200Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 1,647,741 — Total deaths: 97,811 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina.
  4. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Top Boris Johnson aide defends himself after allegations he broke U.K. lockdown
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy