A new report from the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) reveals that population sizes of “mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish” have decreased by 68% since 1970, equivalent to an “unprecedented” rate of destruction of the wide range of species of the Earth.
“Biodiversity is fundamental for human life on Earth and the evidence is unequivocal: it is being destroyed by us at an unprecedented rate in history”, explains the WWF in its report. The authors cite a number of reasons for the massive loss of wildlife including the industrial revolution, human population growth, increased global trade and consumption, urbanization and climate change. WWF claims humans are abusing the planet̵
“Too few of our economic and financial decision makers know how to interpret what we are hearing or, worse still, choose not to tune in at all,” the authors explain. “A key problem is the discrepancy between the artificial ‘economic grammar’ that drives public and private policy and the ‘syntax of nature’ that determines how the real world operates.”
Salon spoke via email with Jeff Opperman, Global Freshwater Lead Scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, who is co-author of the freshwater section of the new report. In that section, Opperman and his colleagues learned that populations of freshwater species experienced the most dramatic population decline, with an 84 percent population decline.
“Our planet is sending out warning signs amid recent wildfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and other extreme weather events,” Opperman told Salon. “We are seeing the breakdown of our relationship with nature in our backyards. The steep global decline in wildlife populations is a key indicator that ecosystems are in danger. Healthy ecosystems provide a number of benefits to humans such as clean water, air clean, a stable climate, protection from floods and pollination of food crops. As populations decline and ecosystems begin to unravel, so too does nature’s ability to support human health and livelihood. “
He argued that the situation, although disastrous, is not insurmountable.
“Scientific models show that we can ‘bend the curve’ to stop the loss of nature,” explained Opperman. “Modeling predicts that declining trends can be flattened and reversed with urgent and unprecedented actions. These actions include transforming the way we produce food, aggressive movements to tackle climate change, and investing in nature-based solutions that deliver benefits. direct to society, such as coastal protection. It is also imperative to transform our economic systems to reflect the “natural capital” that underlies our economic prosperity. “
He concluded: “In summary, the report urges world leaders to treat biodiversity conservation as a strategic investment to preserve human health, wealth and security.”
Michael E. Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, told Salon via email that the WWF report is another sign that “profligate consumption, resource extraction, exploitation of ecosystems and reckless polluters are destroying this planet. “He said that” we need much more extensive conservation and conservation policies, international agreements to protect key terrestrial and marine ecosystems, consequences for corporate polluters, and an ethic that values conservation of life rather than the accumulation of wealth “.
The WWF report is not the only recent scientific study indicating that humanity is heading for a mass extinction event. An article published in Science found that the current rate of man-made global warming far exceeds natural climate fluctuations as they existed in the Cenozoic era, or the period that has existed in the planet’s history since an asteroid hit the Earth about 66 million years ago.
“This study reinforces the fact that we are now affecting the climate – and the planet – in ways that are unprecedented even on geological time scales. It’s a warning shot over the bow, if there ever was one,” Mann wrote. Salon.
In response to the report, British nature historian Sir David Attenborough told the BBC that we live in a new geological period known as the Anthropocene, one in which human activity fundamentally alters the planet. He argued that this could be a time when people strike a balance with the natural world and become stewards of our planet rather than destroyers of it.
“Doing so will require systemic changes in the way we produce food, create energy, manage our oceans and use materials,” Attenborough said. “But most of all it will require a shift in perspective. A shift from seeing nature as something that is optional or ‘nice to have’ to the only greatest ally we have in restoring balance to our world.”