In 1979, the EPA along with other federal agencies and the world's leading environmental groups projected that "at least 500,000-600,000" species would become extinct by the year 2000. By how much did this projection overshoot reality?
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter tasked the EPA and other federal agencies to estimate "probable changes" to the world's environment up through the year 2000. This effort involved hundreds of people, including advisors from the world's leading environmental groups. In 1979, this team released "The Global 2000 Report to the President of the U.S.," which stated that under current policies and continued technological progress, "at least 500,000-600,000" species "will be extinguished during the next two decades." In 2004, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the world's leading authority on extinctions, reported: "At least 27 species are recorded as having become Extinct or Extinct in the Wild during the last 20 years (1984-2004)." The report notes that other extinctions may have occurred, such as "eight species of birds," but more research is needed to be certain. Even if 100 species went extinct, the 1979 projection overshot the actual loss by more than 5,000 times.