According to a recently released report, humanity has annihilated 60% of the world’s living creatures since 1970. This wanton destruction of wildlife has led many prominent scientists to declare a state of emergency that threatens the very world we live in.
Professor Johan Rockström, a global sustainability expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, warns that we are rapidly running out of time. The conservation organization “WWF” released this report, and gathered opinions from 59 experts.
The report reaches the conclusion that humanity’s drastically increased consumption of food and resources is causing irreparable harm to the environment. Our planet’s delicate ecosystem, billions of years in the making, is something that human beings have come to depend on for survival. And yet our actions are destroying the clean air, water, and infrastructure that we need.
Mike Barrett, the executive director of conservation at the WWF, explains that the damage we are doing is not purely aesthetic. We are jeopardizing the very future of humanity. On top of the destruction that humanity is wreaking on the environment, many top scientists fear that this situation will grow to be much worse.
Many believe that we are on the brink of mass extinction- except this time, one caused by a single species. The species in question? Homo Sapiens… otherwise known as humankind.
According to estimates, humankind has already destroyed 83% of all mammals since its early stages of development- destruction that would take over 5 million years to repair even if we were to stop our destructive behavior right now.
The WWF works with the Living Planet Index, a database that monitors the populations of over 4000 different species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians. According to this index, animal populations dropped by 60% from 1970 to 2014- and in the past 4 years, by 52%! Clearly, something needs to be done if we wish to preserve our planet and ensure our very survival.
Professor Bob Watson, a leading environmental scientist, explains that the destruction of nature is at least as dangerous as climate change. Destroying nature can lead to food, energy, and clean water shortages.
There are a number of reasons for this disregard for our environment. The damage is caused by a number of reasons- creating farmland, hunting animals for food, and overfishing oceans. According to the latest statistics, approximately 300 species of animals are eaten to the point of near extinction, and over half of the planet’s oceans are overfished.
In addition, the toxic byproducts of the world’s manufacturing industry are a major contributor. Air and water pollution caused by blatant carelessness is one factor. World trade transferring foreign species and contaminants along with diseases is another.
In an example of the tragic losses our planet has sustained, South and Central America have lost 89% in some animal populations. This has mostly been caused by the deforestation of large portions of wildlife habitats.
Even though the Living Planet Index is controversial – many experts criticize it as being an inaccurate measure of damage to wildlife – it is not the only indicator of serious damage being done to our environment. Extinction rates and ecosystem monitors both show drastic destruction being done to our planet.
In the end, something must be done. Many countries have undergone conservation efforts that have shown great improvement in the population of affected species. However, Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, explains that the problem lies elsewhere: our consumption.