World Environment Day - June 5, 2010 - Biodiversity
World Environment Day is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. Under the theme 'Many Species. One Planet. One Future' - 2010’s event will celebrate the incredible diversity of life on Earth as part of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. This year’s global host, Rwanda – a country of exceptional biodiversity that has made huge strides on environmental protection – will lead the celebrations with three days of keynote events. Thousands of activities will also be organized worldwide, with beach clean-ups, concerts, exhibits, film festivals, community events and much more.
Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth, but is consistently rich in the tropics and in specific localized regions such as the Cape Floristic Province; it is less rich in polar regions where fewer species are found.
Rapid environmental modifications typically cause extinctions. Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct. Since life began on Earth, five major mass extinctions have led to large and sudden drops in the biodiversity of species. The Phanerozoic eon (the last 540 million years) marked a rapid growth in biodiversity in the Cambrian explosion—a period during which nearly every phylum of multicellular organisms first appeared. The next 400 million years was distinguished by periodic, massive losses of biodiversity classified as mass extinction events. The most recent, the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, occurred 65 million years ago, and has attracted more attention than all others because it killed the dinosaurs.
Today there is concern that the period since the emergence of humans is part of a mass reduction in biodiversity, the Holocene extinction, caused primarily by the impact humans are having on the environment, particularly the destruction of plant and animal habitats. In addition, human practices have caused a loss of genetic biodiversity. The relevance of biodiversity to human health is becoming a major international issue, as scientific evidence is gathered on the global health implications of biodiversity loss.
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