Loss of species hits economy

Losses of animal and plant species are an increasing economic threat and the world needs new goals for protecting nature after failing to achieve a 2010 U.N. target of slowing extinctions, experts said on Friday.

Losses of biodiversity “have increasingly dangerous consequences for human well-being, even survival for some societies,” according to a summary of a 90-nation U.N. backed conference in Norway from February 1-5.

Some coral reefs were on the verge of collapse — due to factors such as rising sea temperatures, over-fishing or a gradual acidification of the oceans linked to climate change, experts told the conference.

Johan Rockstrom, director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, said human activities had raised the pace of extinctions to 100-1,000 times the background rate over the Earth’s history.

Among worrying signs, he said that the Southern Ocean and the Arctic Ocean were projected to become corrosive to aragonite — the building blocks of coral reefs — by 2030-60.

REUTERS, The New York Times, 5 February 2010. Full article.

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