May 8, 2019 6:20 am

Queen’s professor reacts to the U.N.’s plant and animal extinction report

The possible extinction of more than one million species of plants and animals has people talking


More than one million species of plants and animals are facing extinction.

A report released Monday at a United Nations meeting in Paris says that it’s all because of humans, and that it’s not too late to fix the problem.

The report’s 39-page summary highlighted five ways people are reducing biodiversity, including developing forests, grasslands and other areas, overfishing the world’s oceans, and polluting land and water.

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READ MORE: 1 million species face extinction as humans plunder nature at ‘unprecedented’ rate

Queen’s University’s Stephen Lougheed is a professor in biology as well as environmental studies, and also directs the school’s biological station near Chaffey’s Lock.

“There have been dramatic declines in biodiversity around the world over the last 30 or 40 years and this is coincident with massive human population growth, industrial agricultural and increases in urbanization,” Lougheed said.

WATCH: UN report says more than 1 Million species at risk

The Ford government recently introduced a bill that would gut protections of at-risk animals and plants. The bill would also weaken the classification criteria, allowing the environment minister to delay protections and allow developers and others to continue their activities in or near habitats of endangered species.

As for the U.N. report, Lougheed says one thing is for sure: doing nothing isn’t an opinion.

READ MORE: UN climate chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ if planet continues on current path

“It is a very dire situation,” he said, “and if we don’t act in the next few years or 10 years, then I think there are going to be devastating, profound and for all intents and purposes permanent consequences for humanity.”

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Lougheed remains optimistic, however, saying there are a number of things individuals can do like engaging in school outreach, teaching kids to value nature and the environment as well as donating to local land conservancies.

Talking to your MP, MPP or even municipal politician to take action, Lougheed says, is another step.

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