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No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Monday 13th May 2019

The UN’s one million species extinction warning doesn’t add up


Anyone watching the BBC’s News at Ten on Monday would have been surprised to learn that economic growth poses a dire threat to the future of life on this planet. We’re used to hearing this from climate change campaigners, but I’ve always taken such claims with a pinch of salt, suspecting that the anti-capitalist left is distorting the evidence. Apparently not. ‘One million species at risk of imminent extinction according to a major UN report,’ intoned the BBC. ‘It says the Earth’s ecosystems are being destroyed by the relentless pursuit of economic growth.’ So does this mean the Extinction Rebellion protestors are right?

I decided to do some digging to see if one million species really do ‘face extinction in the next few decades’, as the BBC put it. That claim is based on a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), but it hasn’t been published yet. All I could find online was a press release put out by the IPBES and a ‘summary’ of the report ‘for policymakers’. The press release states: ‘The report finds that around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.’ It gives no source for this beyond the as-yet-unpublished report, but the summary makes it clear that it’s partly based on data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. (To read more, click here.)

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Twitter @beholdcosmicwav I talked about that in last week’s @calling_podcast with @JamesDelingpole. Have a listen here link  (3 hours ago)

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