‘Nature Is Unraveling’: New WWF Report Reveals ‘Alarming’ 68% Plummet in Wildlife Populations Worldwide Since 1970 | Common Dreams News

The World Wide Fund for Nature on Thursday released its Living Planet Report 2020, the thirteenth edition of its biennial flagship publication. (Photo: Jonathan Caramanus/Green Resistance/WWF-UK)

“In the midst of a global pandemic, it is now more important than ever to take unprecedented and coordinated global action to halt and start to reverse the loss of biodiversity.”

by
Jessica Corbett, staff writer

“The Living Planet Report 2020 is being published at a time of global upheaval, yet its key message is something that has not changed in decades: nature—our life-support system—is declining at a staggering rate.”

That’s according to the 13th edition of a biennial report (pdf) from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), released Thursday in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which has heightened warnings about the dire consequences of humanity’s “absolute disrespect for animals and the environment,” in the words of world renowned conservationist Jane Goodall earlier this year.

The Living Planet Index (LPI), managed by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in partnership with WWF, tracks the abundance of 20,811 populations of 4,392 species across the globe. The latest version of WWF’s flagship publication reveals that the LPI “shows an average 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2016.”

“The Living Planet Report 2020 underlines how humanity’s increasing destruction of nature is having catastrophic impacts not only on wildlife populations but also on human health and all aspects of our lives.”
—Marco Lambertini, WWF

The Living Planet Index (LPI), managed by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in partnership with WWF, tracks the abundance of 20,811 populations of 4,392 species across the globe. The latest version of WWF’s flagship publication reveals that the LPI “shows an average 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2016.”

The LPI “is one of the most comprehensive measures of global biodiversity,” or the variety of life on Earth, Andrew Terry, ZSL’s director of conservation, explained in a statement Thursday. “An average decline of 68% in the past 50 years is catastrophic, and clear evidence of the damage human activity is doing to the natural world.”

Biodiversity loss and its drivers vary around the world, with the greatest losses recently recorded in tropical areas. WWF reports that average population declines by region were 94% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 65% in Africa, 45% in Asia-Pacific, 33% in North America, and 24% in Europe and Central Asia.

In each of those regions, changes in land and sea use, including habitat loss and degradation, had the most significant impact on wildlife populations, followed by species overexploitation, invasive species and disease, pollution, and climate change. The report explains that “globally, climate change has not been the most important driver of the loss of biodiversity to date, yet in coming decades it is projected to become as, or more, important than the other drivers.”

In Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, human-caused climate change already affects wildlife populations more than pollution—and the impact isn’t one-way. “Loss of biodiversity can adversely affect climate—for example, deforestation increases the atmospheric abundance of carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas,” the report notes.

“The Living Planet Report 2020 underlines how humanity’s increasing destruction of nature is having catastrophic impacts not only on wildlife populations but also on human health and all aspects of our lives,” said WWF International director general Marco Lambertini, who argues for a “a deep cultural and systemic shift” in the report’s foreword.

“We can’t ignore the evidence—these serious declines in wildlife species populations are an indicator that nature is unraveling and that our planet is flashing red warning signs of systems failure,” he continued. “From the fish in our oceans and rivers to bees which play a crucial role in our agricultural production, the decline of wildlife affects directly nutrition, food security, and the livelihoods of billions of people.”

…(read more).

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