"Is There Life on Mars?"
According to environmental commissioner Wallstrom, the question should be: Is There Still Life on Earth?
[This article originally published in the Austrian der Standard is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://derstandard.at/druck.asp?id=1564369.]
According to the statistics of the EU (European Union) commission, 42 percent of all mammals in Europe threaten to become extinct. More than half of freshwater fish, 15 percent of the bird stock and 45 percent of all butterflies in Europe are threatened, the Brussels authorities reported at the start of the international conference on protecting diversity of species in Kuala Lumpur.
`Is there still life on earth?' is the great question nowadays, not `Is there life on Mars?', EU environmental commissioner Margot Wallstrom said in Brussels.
Altogether the EU estimates the number of species threatened with extinction worldwide at more than 12,000. However that is only the top of the iceberg because no one can say with certainty how many plant- and animal species there are, Wallstrom said. Around 1.8 million species are known to biologists worldwide.
Consequential Economic Damage
In the future, consequential economic damage connected with the loss of biological diversity will intensify, Wallstrom warned. Experts estimate the productive value of the ecosystems worldwide at 26 trillion Euro annually. This is equivalent to twice the economic output produced by humans. Unemployment and economic losses are often results of the loss of diversity of species, Wallstrom declared.
According to Wallstrom's data, the EU holds to the goal negotiated two years ago at the UN conference in the Hague of stopping the loss of diversity of species by 2010. Therefore the deliberations in Malaysia should concentrate on creating a worldwide net of conservation areas. The survival of species existing worldwide should be observed in detail. Economic incentives are necessary to convince developing countries of the benefits of protective measures, the commissioner said.