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James Forbes Talks Climate Change and the Sixth Great Extinction on the Planet

James Forbes from the Jane Goodall Institute of Australia joins our special series on Climate Change and we talk the sixth great extinction. A mass extinction is a short period of geological time in which a high percentage of biodiversity, or distinct speciesbacteria, fungi, plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, invertebratesdies out. In this definition, it’s important to note that, in geological time, a ‘short’ period can span thousands or even millions of years. The planet has experienced five previous mass extinction events, the last one occurring 65.5 million years ago which wiped out the dinosaurs from existence. Experts now believe we’re in the midst of a sixth mass extinction.

Unlike previous extinction events caused by natural phenomena, the sixth mass extinction is driven by human activity, primarily (though not limited to) the unsustainable use of land, water and energy use, and climate change. According to the Living Planet Report, 30% of all land that sustains biodiversity has been converted for food production. Agriculture is also responsible for 80% of global deforestation and accounts for 70% of the planet’s freshwater use, devastating the species that inhabit those places by significantly altering their habitats. It’s evident that where and how food is produced is one of the biggest human-caused threats to species extinction and our ecosystems. To make matters worse, unsustainable food production and consumption are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions that are causing atmospheric temperatures to rise, wreaking havoc across the globe. The climate crisis is causing everything from severe droughts to more frequent and intense storms. It also exacerbates the challenges associated with food production that stress species, while creating conditions that make their habitats inhospitable. Increased droughts and floods have made it more difficult to maintain crops and produce sufficient food in some regions. The intertwined relationships among the food system, climate change, and biodiversity loss are placing immense pressure on our planet. Source:

About James Forbes

Prior to joining JGIA as CEO, James held senior marketing and fundraising roles with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, Nature Conservation Trust of NSW and WWF-Australia. Along with operating his own consulting business, Forbes Philanthropy & Marketing, James is a Senior Associate with Global Philanthropic and a Marketing Advisor with Food Frontier. He is the co-author of a peer reviewed paper, 'Monitoring and evaluating the social and psychological dimensions that contribute to privately protected area program effectiveness'. In 2019 James was appointed to the Board of the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group - an on-ground organisation protecting and enhancing wetlands throughout Australia's largest inland river system.

“We are part of and depend on the natural world”
“We must face the shocking fact that we’re living through the sixth great extinction in the history of life on planet Earth.
“Fortunately we’re beginning to tackle the problems that we’ve created. We’re beginning to use our extraordinary intellect to put things right. People are waking up and realising that if we don’t take action to protect and restore biodiversity we’re doomed.
“It’s not too late…”
Jane Goodall
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