No one can argue that humans aren’t the dominant species — for better or worse.
World Wildlife Fund released an alarming report Tuesday asserting that humans are directly responsible for killing off an average of 60 percent of the world’s mammals, fish, birds and reptiles — in just over 40 years.
“Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions,” say WWF’s Living Planet Report authors.
The WWF collected data on more than 4,000 species globally between 1970 and 2014. The take-away: Humanity’s insatiable appetite for Earth’s natural resources — energy, land, water — and a growing food-production industry, is leading to “over-exploitation.”
The WWF urges global leaders to join forces to, well, save the planet.
“Decision makers at every level need to make the right political, financial and consumer choices to achieve the vision that humanity and nature thrive in harmony on our only planet.”
They better move fast: Researchers estimate that only one-tenth of the world’s land mass has been spared from human consumption. South and Central America have suffered the greatest impact, with some 89 percent of their vertebrate species lost.
Far-reaching plastic waste also put our marine — especially freshwater — life at high risk. Fish in lakes, rivers and wetlands have declined by 83 percent since 1970.
Human activity has crushed the habitats and natural resources that wildlife and humanity depend on: oceans, forests, coral reefs, wetlands and mangroves. Earth is estimated to have lost about half of its shallow water corals in the past 30 years — and 20 percent of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years.
“The statistics are scary, but all hope is not lost,” says professor Ken Norris, director of science at the Zoological Society of London, which organized the study.
“We have an opportunity to design a new path forward that allows us to coexist sustainably with the wildlife upon which we depend. Our report sets out an ambitious agenda for change. We are going to need your help to achieve it.”
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