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Global wildlife populations could drop two-thirds by 2020 as human demand continues to exceed Earth’s capacity

Sunday, November 27, 2016 17:22
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Desdemona Despair

The Living Planet Index 2016 extrapolated to 2020 under a business as usual scenario The Living Planet Index (solid black line) with model fit and extrapolation to 2020 (white line, shaded area) under a business as usual scenario, shaded band shows limits 95 per cent confidence of the model fit. Using method from Tittensor et al., 2014. Graphic: WWF International

OAKLAND, California, 26 October 2016 (Global Footprint Network) – The overexploitation of ecological resources by humanity is directly contributing to the 67 percent plunge in wild vertebrate populations scientists forecast for the 50-year period ending in 2020, according to WWF’s Living Planet Report 2016.

The top threats to species identified in the report are directly linked to human activities, including habitat loss, degradation, and overexploitation of wildlife. According to Global Footprint Network, humanity is currently using the resources of 1.6 planets to provide the goods and services we demand each year while we only have one Earth.

Under a business-as-usual path for the underlying drivers of resource consumption, increasing human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems is projected to exceed their regenerative capacity by about 75 percent by 2020, according to Global Footprint Network, which has collaborated with WWF on the biennial Living Planet Report since 2000.

“Changing this course will require considerable shifts in technology, infrastructure, and behavior,” said Mathis Wackernagel, Co-founder and CEO of Global Footprint Network. “The good news is that we know what we need to do, and the technologies that can help us get there already exist. The only thing missing is the public will to embark on the path.”

“No matter how you add it up, the math does not look good. The more we continue to exceed Earth’s limits, the more damage we do to our own future.  Biodiversity forms the foundation of healthy forests, rivers, and oceans. Take away species, and these ecosystems will collapse along with the clean air, water, food, and climate services that they provide us,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International.

The WWF report uses the Living Planet Index, provided by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), to monitor trends in wildlife abundance. It finds that global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles have already declined by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012, the most recent year with available data. This places the world on a trajectory of a potential two-thirds decline within a span of the half century ending in 2020.

“Human behavior continues to drive the decline of wildlife populations globally, with particular impact in freshwater habitats,” said Professor Ken Norris, Director of Science at ZSL.

According to the report, the food demand of an expanding human population is leading the race in the destruction of habitats and overexploitation of wildlife. At present, agriculture occupies about one-third of the Earth’s total land area, and accounts for almost 70 percent of water use. [more] Contact

Ronna Kelly
Communications Director
Global Footprint Network
Tel.: +1-510-839-8879
skype: ronna.kelly.gfn

Global wildlife populations could drop two-thirds by 2020 as human demand continues to exceed the planet’s capacity


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