Human are officially in a race to decimate wildlife
Almost three-fifths of all animals with a backbone; fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals have been wiped out since 1970 by human appetites and activity, according to a gloomy research released Thursday.
The world is speeding towards the first mass extinction of animal life after the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago, according to the most comprehensive survey of wildlife ever carried out.
Within 2020, the populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and other vertebrate species are on course to have fallen by more than two-thirds over a period of just 50 years, an annual drop of two percent, conservation group WWF and the Zoological Society of London warned in their joint biennial Living Planet records.
There exists no secret as to why: our ever-expanding species, which has more than doubled since 1960 to 7.4 billion — is only eating, crowding and poisoning its planetary cohabitants out of existence.
The conclusions are based on long-term monitoring of some 3,700 vertebrate species scattered across more than 14,000 distinct populations throughout the globe. Scientists have followed changes in the size of those populations, not how many species are imperiled with extinction.
Experts now agree that Earth has entered only the sixth “mass extinction event“; when species disappear at least 1,000 times faster than routine; in the last half-billion years.
“Wildlife is dying within our lifetimes at an abnormal rate,” said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International. We should not be deluded into thinking humanity can do without, he added.
“Biodiversity develops the foundation of healthy forests, rivers and oceans. Take away the species, and these ecosystems collapse, along with clean air, water, food and climate services they afford us.”
A dawning realization, in government, business and society as a whole, that a healthy environment is not a luxury but the “foundation of future human development” is the reason for optimism, he suggested in an interview with AFP.
“This is really revolutionary,” he stated, aiming at the global pact to control climate change going into effect next week, and a newly launched set of UN-backed Sustainable Development Goals running through 2030.
“We have achieved in making a strong business case for climate,” Lambertini said.
“Now we have to make an equally strong business argument for conservation of natural systems.”
That is likely to be a hard sell.
Global warming has measurable consequences which has now threatened tens of millions of people, and even then it took nearly thirty years to strike a universal deal.
With biodiversity and ecosystems, the negative impacts are “less direct and less tangible on a global scale,” Lambertini said.
(Additional reporting from AFP)