A massive new United Nations report on the state of the Earth's ecosystems has just been released. After 4 years, a team of over 1300 scientists has published the results of a detailed look at ecosystems around the world, a project called the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.
The researchers found that of the 24 'ecosystem services' they looked at (items such as capture fisheries, water supply, waste treatment and detoxification, regulation of erosion, and aesthetic enjoyment), 15 of the services were being degraded or used unsustainably. "The full costs of the loss and degradation of these ecosystem services are difficult to measure, but the available evidence demonstrates that they are substantial and growing," wrote the authors. The researchers also found that "over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history." In this hour of Science Friday, we'll take a look at the report, and what it might mean for Earth's inhabitants.