Australia has managed to hold on to its record of destroying its species and landscape.
It was recently announced that the Christmas Island forest skink, a small reptile, had joined the long list of animals rendered extinct since colonisation. Indeed, the rate of die-off is so great that this very small news item, hidden away at the very bottom of the page, probably wouldn't have made the news at all except for the fact that the Christmas Island forest skink was also the first reptile to join the ranks of the newly extinct.
Meanwhile, a report in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science recently reported that 90% of seagrass had been lost around Britain's coastline. Describing the losses as 'catastrophic', the report also noted that approximately 7% of seagrass is lost globally every year Frontiers | Historical Analysis Exposes Catastrophic Seagrass Loss for the United Kingdom | Plant Science (frontiersin.org).
Extinction is truly amongst us, because these are just a couple of examples of the rate at which we are losing our biodiversity. Each loss has a net effect upon other species that depend upon these intricate ecosystems remaining intact. So you would have thought that a concerted attempt would now be underway to reverse the damage. Well, I am afraid to say there is not.
Oh, of course individual organisations play their part. For example 'Ocean Seagrass Rescue' a marine environment charity, announces on its website that 'Seagrass Ocean Rescue plans to restore seagrass in a small experimental two hectare area (approximately two rugby pitches) in collaboration with local people in Dale in West Wales', Credit: Project Seagrass | Advancing the conservation of seagrass through education influence research and action | Seagrass Conservation | Seagrass Research | Seagrass Restoration - Seagrass Ocean Rescue.
It is of course laudable that organisations at least try to do something to reverse the damage, but the key issue they face is the sheer size and scale of the problems. Planting a couple of acres of seagrass will have little impact, despite the best of intentions. To get an idea of just how much is at stake, a recent report by scientists across Australia to the Antarctic discovered that 19 ecosystems were collapsing, ending with the dire warning : 'Urgent global recognition is required of both collapsing ecosystems and their detrimental consequences', credit: Combating ecosystem collapse from the tropics to the Antarctic (wiley.com).
'Global recognition' requires that the whole planet, and specifically the governments of the world, actually realise the deadly consequences for life as we know it, yet there is little evidence that they care. The Australian government doesn't appear to have a great track record of environmental awareness, even when faced with certain species loss: Australian threatened species at risk with no recovery plans finalised in past 18 months | Endangered species | The Guardian.
In the United Kingdom, the central and devolved governments are equally apathetic when it comes to dealing with huge damage, as shown by this report on the state of supposed Marine Protected Areas: Government leak reveals destruction of marine wildlife (theferret.scot).
And these are countries that actually have the resources to make meaningful changes to human practices that degrade our environment. What about those countries that don't? Call me a worrier, but perhaps you get the impression that their is little to stop a runaway extinction, leading inevitably to our own?