Humans Have Wiped Out 60% of Animals Since 1970
he pressure on animal populations is at breaking point.
As the loss of wildlife habitat diminishes by the day due to overfishing, and unsustainable agriculture, there are now fewer mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish in the world.
The pressure on animal populations is at breaking point.
The newest figures in the published Living Planet Report of the WWF show biodiversity has declined sharply over the past 50 years.
The effects of human activities on wildlife, forests, and oceans have become so obvious it's dizzying.
The Guardian reports: The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by WWF and involving 59 scientists from across the globe.
It finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.
“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff,” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF.
“If there were a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China, and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”
“This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” he said. “This is now jeopardizing the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”
“We are rapidly running out of time,” said Prof Johan Rockström, a global sustainability expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
“Only by addressing both ecosystems and climate does we stand a chance of safeguarding a stable planet for humanity’s future on Earth.”
Many scientists believe the world has begun a sixth mass extinction, the first to be caused by a species – Homo sapiens.
Other recent analyses have revealed that humankind has destroyed 83% of all mammals and half of plants since the dawn of civilization and that, even if the destruction were to end now, it would take 5-7 million years for the natural world to recover.
The Living Planet Index, produced for WWF by the Zoological Society of London, uses data on 16,704 populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians, representing more than 4,000 species, to track the decline of wildlife.
Between 1970 and 2014, the latest data available, populations fell by an average of 60%. Four years ago, the decline was 52%. The “shocking truth,” said Barrett, is that the wildlife crash is continuing unabated.
Wildlife and the ecosystems are vital to human life, said Prof Bob Watson, one of the world’s most eminent environmental scientists and currently chair of an intergovernmental panel on biodiversity that said in March that the destruction of nature is as dangerous as climate change.
“Nature contributes to human wellbeing culturally and spiritually, as well as through the critical production of food, clean water, and energy, and through regulating the Earth’s climate, pollution, pollination, and floods,” he said.
“The Living Planet report demonstrates that human activities are destroying nature at an unacceptable rate, threatening the well-being of current and future generations.”
The biggest cause of wildlife losses is the destruction of natural habitats, much of it to create farmland.
Three-quarters of all land on Earth is now significantly affected by human activities.
Killing for food is the next biggest cause – 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction – while the oceans are massively overfished, with more than half now being industrially fished.