NATIONAL SURVEY REVEALS BIODIVERSITY CRISIS -
SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS BELIEVE WE ARE IN MIDST
OF FASTEST MASS EXTINCTION IN EARTH'S HISTORY
Crisis Poses Major Threat to Human Survival; Public Unaware of Danger
The American Museum of Natural History and Louis Harris and Associates, Inc., in conjunction with the opening of the Museum's new Hall of Biodiversity, developed a nationwide survey titled Biodiversity in the Next Millennium. The survey reveals a startling gap in understanding between the scientific community and the general public concerning a current crisis in sustaining "biodiversity" - the variety and interdependence of the Earth's plants and animals.
- Seven out of ten biologists believe that we are in the midst of a mass extinction of living things, and that this dramatic loss of species poses a major threat to human existence in the next century.
- In strong contrast to the fears expressed by scientists, the general public is relatively unaware of the loss of species and the threats that it poses.
- This mass extinction is the fastest in Earth's 4.5-billion-year history and, unlike prior extinctions, is mainly the result of human activity and not of natural phenomena.
- Scientists rate biodiversity loss as a more serious environmental problem than the depletion of the ozone layer, global warming, or pollution and contamination.
- Scientists overwhelmingly believe that we must act now to address the biodiversity crisis. The majority of scientists believe the crisis could be averted by a stronger stance by policymakers and governments and by individuals making changes in their daily lives.
- Scientists believe some of the most important effects of this dramatic species loss are:
- Serious impairment of the environment's ability to recover from natural and human-induced disasters.
- Destruction of the natural systems that purify the world's air and water.
- Reduction of the potential for the discovery of new medicines.
- Increased flooding, drought, and other environmental disasters.
- Substantial contribution to the degradation of the world's economies, thereby weakening the social and political stability of nations across the globe.
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For more information, contact: American Museum of Natural History, Department
of Communications, 212-769-5800.
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