Are more species becoming extinct?
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Current patterns of climate change present the gravest threat to life on Earth in all of human history.

The planet is warming to temperatures beyond which many species can handle, altering or eliminating habitat, reducing food sources, causing drought and other species-harming severe weather events.

The UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15) in 2022 agreed a new set of goals to guide global action to halt and reverse nature loss.

However - and as the UN report themselves - despite numerous government pledges, biodiversity loss is accelerating in all regions of the world.

How can we assess biodiversity?

On this page I look at one aspect - species extinction.

The IUCN Red List

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) is a membership Union of government and civil society organisations. IUCN works to advance sustainable development and create a just world that values and conserves nature.

The IUCN Red List is a critical indicator of the health of the world's biodiversity.

"It informs conservation action and policy, providing information about species' range, population size, habitats and ecology, use and trade, threates, and conservation actions that help inform conservation decisions".

You can find out more about the Red List here.

IUCN Red List

The IUCN Red List Index

The IUCN Red List Index (RLI) shows trends in overall extinction risk for species, and is used by governments to track their progress towards targets for reducing biodiversity loss.

As assessment of the status of the very large number of species being monitored is so challenging, detecing overall trends is not straighforward. This means that the figures related to numbers of threatened apecies needs to be interpreted very carefully. That is why the RLI was introduced.

For a full explanation of the RLI see this page.

As explained there an RLI value of 1.0 equates to all species qualifying as least concern (i.e. not expected to become Extinct in the near future). An RLI value of 0 equates to all species having gone extinct.

RLI now

Our World in Data publish various data related to biodiversity, including recent values of the RLI, categorised by locale.

You can access the latest one here.

For more information about the biodiversity data published by Our World in Data see this page.