New study finds nearly 600 plant species have vanished

World Today

Alarm is growing in the scientific community following a new study that finds nearly 600 plant species have been wiped out in the last 250 years.

That’s more than twice the number of other species like birds, mammals and amphibians combined that have gone extinct during the same period.

CGTN’s Owen Fairclough has more.

Fisherman Jose Da Cruz can catch up to five dozen crabs a day – but his catch is half what it was ten years ago.

“Nature here is upset with what is happening,” he says. “In Antarctica, it’s all melting, nature is melting.”

The rising waters created by climate change are threatening nearly 14,000 square kilometers of mangroves that hold Brazil’s coastal swamps together, and the damage wrought to plant life has been laid bare in a new joint study by the UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens and Sweden’s Stockholm University.

Researchers found 571 plant species have disappeared in the last 250 years – 500 times faster than “natural” extinction rates.

Islands and tropical areas are considered the most vulnerable to climate change – through taking action to prevent it has been problematic after the U.S pulled out of an international agreement setting harmful emissions targets.

Carlos Afonso Nobre, a climate change researcher at Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo, explains that, “When we need a barrier to lessen the impact of the severity of what comes from the ocean – the waves, storms, tides – the mangroves are essential for moderating that impact and protecting the populations that live in those areas.”

Jose earns around $50 a week from his crab catching but isn’t sure if this way of life is viable for much longer.

“I’m not literate,” he says, “I didn’t study, I can’t read or write, but one thing I know and one thing I have respect for nature, and everyone should keep respecting nature, because nature respects us.”

Kari Fulton on the ‘ripple effect’ of species extinction

CGTN’s Mike Walter asked global environmental justice advocate Kari Fulton for her reaction to a study that found nearly 600 plant species have disappeared over the past 250 years – an extinction rate scientists say is 500 times faster than it should be.