More Than a Third of US Plants, Animals at Risk of Extinction

    More Than a Third of US Plants, Animals at Risk of Extinction
    Last updated Feb 07, 2023
    Image credit: Brad Brooks/


    • According to a report released on Monday, 40% of animals and 34% of plants in the US are at risk of extinction, while 41% of ecosystems are facing collapse. The conservation research group behind the publication said the most at-risk species include snails, amphibians, and freshwater mussels.[1]
    • NatureServe, which receives and analyzes data from more than 1K scientists in its US and Canadian networks, has compiled a database of ecological information since the 1960s on the health of animals, plants, and ecosystems.[1]
    • The areas of the US with the highest percentages of species at risk — California, Texas, and the southeastern US — are those in which human population growth and urbanization are booming.[2]
    • The report also says that pollinators are particularly threatened by the effects of habitat loss, climate change, and pollution. Of assessed pollinator species, 37% are at risk. Conservation efforts must focus on these invertebrates, says NatureServe, as many of them play an integral role in maintaining healthy ecosystems.[3]
    • More than half of all cacti species in the US are also at risk of extinction, in addition to 200 species of trees. Among the country's ecosystems, expansive temperate and boreal grasslands are among the most imperiled, with over half of 78 grassland types at risk of range-wide collapse. The report states that, while they are overlooked in environmental strategies, species with conservation needs are often essential to wider ecosystems.[4]
    • The publication found that threats were varied, and included “habitat degradation and land conversion, invasive species, damming and polluting of rivers, and climate change."[5]


    Narrative A

    The conclusions of the report are a terrifying call to action. The data shows the need for the public to help prevent the disappearance of many of our plant species and act to counter threats to biodiversity including habitat degradation and land conversion, invasive species, pollution of rivers, and climate change. The report can help lawmakers understand the urgency of passing protection, such as the Recovering America's Wildlife Act.

    Narrative B

    While this data is alarming and more must certainly be done to protect our plants and animals, this latest report should be taken with a grain of salt. Extinction rates are notoriously difficult to predict accurately, and doomsayers have warned of mass extinction for decades. There seems to be a general trend of over-exaggerating in the face of uncertainty, and why would this time be any different?

    Narrative C

    Democracy is about compromise, but the urgency of climate change waits for no one. The structural mismatch of democratic systems with the urgency of the rapidly altering environment is clear domestically in the US, but is most evident internationally, when nations with diverse political and social aims struggle to agree on a cooperative course of action. Inaction on these issues is not necessarily the fault of politicians, but the fundamentally flawed nature of democratic systems in their current form.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 20% chance that there will be a successful attempt at cloning the full, functional genome of a species extinct for more than 1,000 years by 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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