Your morning coffee could hasten species’ extinction

International research has quantified the impact of human consumption on species extinction risk in the run-up to the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-15).

Around 1 million species are already on the verge of extinction, many within the next few decades, according to a recent assessment report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The research, which examined over 5,000 species in 188 countries, discovered that consumption in Europe, North America, and East Asia (including Japan and South Korea) is primarily responsible for species extinction risk in other countries. In Honduras, affected species include the Nombre de Dios Streamside Frog and Madagascar’s Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat.

The research, which was published in Scientific Reports, was led by Ms Amanda Irwin of the University of Sydney’s Integrated Sustainability Analysis research group and co-authored by Dr. Thomas Brooks, chief scientist of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Dr. Juha Siikamäki, chief economist of the IUCN.

The authors draw parallels between the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis, albeit with less attention. “These crises are happening concurrently,” Ms Irwin explained. “We hope that the upcoming COP-15 will raise awareness of the other human-caused natural crisis of our generation—irreversible biodiversity loss—and that our findings will shed light on the role of global consumption as a driver of this loss.”

Significant findings include the following:

Consumption in 76 countries, primarily in Europe, North America, and East Asia, is primarily responsible for other countries’ extinction risk.

This extinction-risk footprint is driven by offshore consumption in 16 countries, primarily in Africa.
Domestic consumption is the primary driver of the extinction-risk footprint in 96 countries—roughly half of those studied.

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