Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

No More Green Lies

Protesters demonstrate to demand action against the climate emergency on the sidelines of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) congress in Marseille, on September 3, 2021. As the IUCN World Conservation Congress kicks off in France on September 3, an urgent question will be how to reduce the devastation wrought by humanity on the environment. (Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

'Red List of Threatened Species': A Grim Tally of Those Facing Extinction

“It’s hard to watch the rise of nationalism in the face of a global threat that requires global cooperation, global action”

Common Dreams staff

Of the 138,374 species assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for its survival watchlist more than 38,000 are now at risk of extinction, as the destructive impact of human activity on our planet deepens.

An update of the 'Red List of Threatened Species' was released Saturday morning.

Efforts to halt extensive declines in numbers and diversity of animals and plants have largely failed.

In 2019 the UN's biodiversity experts warned that more than a million species are on the brink of extinction - raising the specter that the planet is on the verge of its sixth mass extinction event in 500 million years.

“It’s hard to read the headlines, floods, fires, famines, plagues and tell your children that everything is all right. It’s not all right. Damn it, it’s not all right.”

"The red list status shows that we're on the cusp of the sixth extinction event," the IUCN's Head of Red List Unit Craig Hilton-Taylor told Agence France Presse on the eve of the congress.  

"If the trends carry on going upward at that rate, we'll be facing a major crisis soon."

On Thursday, a group of human rights NGOs, including Survival International, Attac and Minority Rights Group, held a counter-summit presenting their alternative vision.

Climate Home News reported: "They denounced calls for governments to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land by 2030 – up from a previous target of around 17%  – as a “false solution” which risks pushing local communities off their land and diverts attention away from the over-consumption and exploitation of natural resources, which they say is the root cause of the climate and biodiversity crisis."

Fiore Longo, of Survival International, told Climate Home News that expanding protected areas was “terrible from a human rights perspective” and could lead to one of the biggest land grabs in history.

The main message from the IUCN World Conservation Congress, which opened Friday in Marseille, France, is that disappearing species and the destruction of ecosystems are no less existential threats than global warming.

At the same time, climate change itself is casting a darker shadow than ever before on the futures of many species.

Habitat loss, overexploitation and illegal trade have hammered global wildlife populations, but scientists say they are increasingly worried about the looming threats of climate change.

Actor Harrison Ford made an impassioned plea to safeguard biodiversity at the opening of the Congress on Friday.

“It’s hard to watch the rise of nationalism in the face of a global threat that requires global cooperation, global action,” he said. “It’s hard to read the headlines, floods, fires, famines, plagues and tell your children that everything is all right. It’s not all right. Damn it, it’s not all right.”

“C’mon everybody,” he said. “Let’s get to work.”

The Marseille conference runs from Sept. 3-11. Among topics are the links between climate change and biodiversity loss, and the ethics of genetic enhancement to increase species’ chances of survival. The talks are meant to inform COP26, the U.N.’s global climate summit, which will be held from November 1-12, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'A Basic Human Right': Bowman, Markey Unveil Affordable Energy Bill

Sen. Ed Markey called the proposal "the ambitious and comprehensive legislation we need to help ensure the health and safety of American families and support a just transition away from fossil fuel consumption."

Julia Conley ·


Heavily Polluted Louisiana Community Asks EPA to Step In

"Louisiana has failed to protect fenceline communities, including St. John residents, from the harms of highly polluting facilities," said one local advocate.

Kenny Stancil ·


500K Jobs Lost, Starvation Looms as US Holds Afghan Funds Hostage

Sen. Bernie Sanders urged the Biden administration "to immediately release billions in frozen Afghan government funds to help avert this crisis, and prevent the death of millions of people."

Brett Wilkins ·


Senate Panel Approves Antitrust Bill to Rein in Big Tech

"A bipartisan group of senators just stated with a clear voice that Big Tech is too powerful."

Jake Johnson ·


Jamaal Bowman Arrested Alongside Other Voting Rights Protesters

"In the tradition of the late Rep. John Lewis, Jamaal got himself into some good trouble."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo