- According to a UN report, invasive species cost the world more than $423 billion annually.
- From New York to Antarctica, non-native plants and wildlife are on the rise – and we’re contributing to the problem.
- Here are 5 of the most obvious examples of how invasive species are currently affecting all of us.
From Antarctica to New York City, invasive species are becoming a growing problem around the world – and we are directly contributing to it.
A United Nations report on Monday describes how humans have unleashed more than 37,000 invasive species into new territories, crushing competition and threatening the future of humanity as we know it.
“I know this is going to sound grand,” Peter Stoett — a professor at Ontario Tech University who co-authored the new UN report with 85 other experts from 49 different countries around the world — told the Washington Post before becoming the specter of invasive poses a ‘tremendous threat’ to all of ‘human civilization’.
Since 1970, the cost of invasive species invasions has quadrupled every decade, and this new report estimates they now cost the world more than $423 billion annually, an estimate that Stoett qualified as “extremely conservative.”
It’s not just money we lose. Scientists say invasive species are among the top five causes of biodiversity loss worldwide (alongside other environmental problems such as pollution and climate change). The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the body that produced the report, said: “The serious global threat posed by invasive alien species is underappreciated, underestimated and often unacknowledged” as it affects everything, of our drinking water. for the availability of food and the possibilities for mosquito reproduction.
If you’re still in doubt, here are five obvious ways you can physically see the threat of invasive species in real time.
Spotted lanternflies from China jump all over the east coast
Spotted lanternflies, native to China, were first observed in the US in 2014, in the state of Pennsylvania.
Since then, the United States Department of Agriculture has recorded them traveling to at least thirteen other states, including New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Ohio.
Lanternflies and their eggs are great hitchhikers, and humans help them thrive in the eastern U.S.
Scientists at Cornell University suspect that the main reason lanternflies have not yet been eradicated in the US is that they are constantly being accidentally transported by humans, whether flying in their cars or piggybacking on wood that is then moved.
Without human assistance, lanternflies have a jumping and flying range of only about three to four miles.
The recent fires in Maui were also fueled by a non-native invasive grass species
Guinea pig grass is “unfortunately everywhere you go,” Melani Spielman, O’ahu’s Waimea Valley volunteer coordinator, said in a YouTube video posted earlier this year.
“It’s that super-tall grass you see all along the roadsides, high up in the mountains,” she said.
As we saw in the deadly wildfires that ravaged Maui last month, killing people and wildlife, this tall grass can spark fires. In turn, it helps kill more native species that are not as adapted to fire.
In addition to being a fire hazard, the plant also has tiny hairs at the base of the plant that can aggravate your skin if you rub against it. Some people call it “green panic grass.”
Tall Guinea Grass is native to parts of Africa and the Middle East, and was introduced to Hawaii in the 18th century
Ranchers living in Hawaii brought the grass there because it was a drought-resistant way to keep their animals fed.
It is important to emphasize that most non-native and introduced plants are not invasive. The authors of the new UN report estimate that only about 6% of non-native plants and 11% of non-native microbes are invasive species.
However, invasive species are a major cause of animal and plant extinctions, contributing to more than half (60%) of them.
The most common invasive species in the world is a beautiful, purple-flowered aquatic plant from South America
From the lakes of Kenya to the waters of Bangladesh and the US state of Florida, the water hyacinth, native to South America, has caused serious problems for local fishermen.
It can block entire waterways, crowding out other plants, and it’s also a great breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Zebra mussels from Europe have threatened drinking water and power plants in the U.S. Great Lakes region since they were introduced in the 1980s
Zebra mussels can cling to anything from a ship’s propeller to a rock, outnumbering the local mussels in the Great Lakes region.
Experts think zebra mussels were probably introduced to North America when large boats traveling from Europe discharged water from across the Atlantic.
Now the clams regularly clog power plant pipes, causing millions of dollars in damage. They once forced to shut down a water pump that supplied drinking water to 50,000 Michigan residents.
Not even Antarctica is safe from the threat of invaders as a non-native bluegrass
Scientists are concerned that as the poles warm, invasive grasses like the common Eurasian bluegrass called “poa annua” could completely displace Antarctica’s local grasses and kill them off forever.
But experts assure that we can take preventive measures.
“The good news is that for almost every context and situation, there are management tools, governance options, and targeted actions that actually work,” said Anibal Pauchard, a professor at the University of Concepción in Chile, who co-chaired the conference. new UN report.
“Prevention is definitely the best and most cost-effective option, but eradication, containment and control are also effective in specific contexts.”