The Earth is losing wildlife at an alarming rate. New research suggests that if humans don’t take action soon, we could lose two-thirds of global wildlife by 2020.
That’s according to the latest Living Planet Report published by the World Wildlife Fund. The report is based on the conservation group’s analysis of more than 14,200 vertebrate populations across 3,700 species of mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles.
Since the 1970s, wildlife populations have plunged by a whopping 58 percent. Freshwater-dwelling animals that live in lakes, rivers and wetlands have been hit hardest by population decline. Roughly 81 percent of those animal populations have been wiped out in the past 40 years.
Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, says in the report:
“Wildlife is disappearing within our lifetimes at an unprecedented rate. We are entering a new era in Earth’s history: the Anthropocene, an era in which humans rather than natural forces are the primary drivers of planetary change.”
According to the WWF, the rapid extinction of global wildlife populations can be blamed on the following:
- Habitat loss and degradation
- Climate change
- Overexploitation of resources
Mike Barrett, director of science and policy at WWF-UK, tells the Associated Press:
“For the first time since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, we face a global mass extinction of wildlife. We ignore the decline of other species at our peril — for they are the barometer that reveals our impact on the world that sustains us.”
But the situation — dire as it may seem — isn’t hopeless.
The WWF says that, as humans, we need to rethink how we produce and consume. We also need to consider how much we value our natural environment. The conservation group says it’s working with governments, businesses and communities in an effort to halt or decrease habitat loss, reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.
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