60 percent of wildlife around the world has died off since 1970, report finds

Posted at 5:58 AM, Oct 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-30 06:58:59-04

(RNN) – Worldwide wildlife populations are vanishing at an ever-accelerating pace, a new report by the World Wildlife Fund has found.

The conservation group’s 2018 “Living Planet Report” finds an astonishing “overall decline of 60 percent in the population sizes of vertebrates between 1970 and 2014 – in other words, an average drop of well over half in less than 50 years.”

That compares to just four years ago -  when the report found a 50 percent decline between 1970 and 2010.

“The situation is really bad, and it keeps getting worse,” the director general of the World Wildlife Fund, Marco Lambertini, told Agence France-Presse.

The measurement, called the “Living Planet Index,” has been published every two years since 1998 and has “tracked the population abundance of thousands of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians around the world.”

This year’s “Living Planet Index” sampled 16,704 populations from 4,005 species across the globe.

The most dramatic losses have been concentrated in the global tropics, and in particular in South and Central America, where an 89 percent decline has been observed over roughly 45 years.

The report lays much of the blame for the die-off on “exploding human consumption.”

“Overexploitation and agricultural activity, driven by our runaway consumption, are still the dominant causes of current species loss,” the report states.

Lambertini, the WWF director general, told AFP that “we have always taken nature for granted.”

“Humans evolved for two million years in a nature that was abundant, rich, dominant,” he said. “But now – over the last few decades – we are beginning to alter the biosphere in ways that are pushing some planetary systems to the point of collapse.”

The report notes that in the last half-century, humanity’s “ecological footprint” – an overall measure of resource consumption – has increased by nearly 200 percent. It traces this to the so-called “Great Acceleration” – the massive global population spike that has coincided with industrialization which has “driven a phenomenal increase in the demand for energy, land and water that is fundamentally changing Earth’s operation system.”

The World Wildlife Fund is calling for a “global deal for nature and people” to reverse biodiversity loss.

“The evidence becomes stronger every day that humanity’s survival depends on our natural systems, yet we continue to destroy the health of nature at an alarming rate,” it states. “It’s clear that efforts to stem the loss of biodiversity have not worked and business as usual will amount to, at best, a continued, managed decline.”

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