[5/13/19] – One Million Animal Species Threatened with Extinction

A recent report by the United Nations suggests that within the next few decades an estimated 1 million animals and 8 million plants may be extinct. Much of the cause of this is man-made (i.e., pollution, climate change, etc.). This report concludes society, or more globally human kind, is at significant risk of extinction itself as many of the plants, animals, and insects at risk for extinction are critical to the supply chain of food and other life bringing necessities. The report, written by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), concludes that business and financial stakes are also at-risk. For example, an estimated $577 billion dollars in losses for global crops from “pollinator loss” is expected if this report comes true. The report relies on thousands of government documents and is authored by over 400 professional scientists representing 50 nations. They conclude that it is not too late to act, but the window for reaction is closing rapidly.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for One Million Animal Species Threatened with Extinction

Learning Objectives

LO1: Discuss how a Malthusian and a new Malthusian might view the issue of climate change.

LO2: Identify and discuss possible solutions to social problems created by animal and plant extinction.

LO3: Explain the need to view climate change through a lens of social justice


Scientists warn 1 million species threatened with extinction
“One million of the planet’s eight million species are threatened with extinction by humans, scientists warned in what is described as the most comprehensive assessment of global nature loss ever.”

Humans pushing 1 million species to brink of extinction, says UN report
“A new UN report reveals the extent to which mankind is changing life on Earth. Written by an international panel of experts, it concludes that nearly a quarter of animal and plant groups are at risk of extinction, some within decades. William Brangham talks to one of the report’s authors, the National University of Mexico’s Patricia Balvanera, about what’s driving the changes and how to stop them.”

Thinking About Global Warming Through A Different Lens | Todd Beer | TEDxLakeForestCollege
“Climate change is considered by many to be an environmental issue, maybe an issue that needs to be resolved through technological innovation, or an issue that we should think about economically through a cost-benefit analysis. While these are all important ways to understand our current and growing crisis, we also need to think about climate change through the lens of justice. This talk examines the multifaceted argument for “climate justice” and its importance for today’s policy makers and tomorrow’s leaders throughout the world. Todd is an Assistant Professor of the Sociology and Anthropology department at Lake Forest College. Todd teaches courses and conducts research on climate change, globalization, culture, and social movements. His current lines of research examine the levels and predictors of support for a radical shift away from capitalism among climate change protesters, as well as the dissemination, adoption, and interaction of global cultural norms in a rural Maasai community in Kenya. He blogs about all things sociological at sociologytoolbox.com”



  1. Using C. Wright Mills’ interpretation of the sociological imagination, describe the connection between the public issue of climate change and the private lives of individuals. How has our history impacted our current situation? Why might most people disregard the effects of climate change on animals?
  2. Using a Conflict perspective, how might communities of workers experience the negative effects of climate change differently from those who own the means of production? Why might it be important to consider factors such as race, gender, sexuality, and religion to more fully understand their advantage or disadvantage with regard to successfully navigating climate change in their community?
  3. Why is it essential to view climate change through the lens of social justice? What communities are most likely to suffer as a result of climate change? Is it possible that, like Thomas Malthus argued, as population continues to grow we will exhaust available natural resources, leading to inequality in society? When will this happen? What will be the outcome in this state of anomie?
  4. Why is it critical to involve the global community in combatting climate change? Why is it necessary to recognize that all members of the global community contribute something to the spread or demise of climate change? Why is it important for humans to act in an effort to preserve the life of animals and plants?
  5. Using a Structural-Functional perspective, what might be a stabilizing effect climate change can have on the global community? How might climate change serve to unite populations, create opportunities for wealth, and fundamentally alter how we view our relationship with the environment? What social institutions will need to be involved in order for this paradigm shift to occur? How will the culture of the United States need to change, if at all?

Current Events Quiz

Anomie is best described as ______.

  1. social agents who influence our everyday life
  2. a global institutional network tasked with updating the “social contract” every 5 years
  3. a state of normless experienced during times of rapid change in society
  4. a group of recently demedicalized health conditions

Sociologists are most likely drawn to researching climate change because ______.

  1. the relationship between humans and the environment is critical to the continuation of society
  2. most media pundits are ignoring this issue
  3. they want to better understand how animals contribute to the food chain
  4. the cost of insurance may rise in coastal towns if sea level rises to predicted levels

Which of the following sociological perspectives would be most interested in investigating the decision-making process individuals use when deciding whether or not to believe, and then contribute to, the decline of pollution in an effort to maximize their own benefit?

  1. Functionalist
  2. Conflict
  3. Symbolic-Interaction
  4. Rational-Choice


Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/2630ben

Leave a Reply