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Largest loss of life on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs

Almost 70% of animal populations wiped out since 1970, report reveals
The age of extinction / Almost 70% of animal populations wiped out since 1970, report reveals

Earth’s wildlife populations have plunged by an average of 69% in just under 50 years, according to a leading scientific assessment, as humans continue to clear forests, consume beyond the limits of the planet and pollute on an industrial scale.

From the open ocean to tropical rainforests, the abundance of birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles is in freefall, declining on average by more than two-thirds between 1970 and 2018, according to the WWF and Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) biennial Living Planet Report. Two years ago, the figure stood at 68%, four years ago, it was at 60%.

Many scientists believe we are living through the sixth mass extinction – the largest loss of life on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs – and that it is being driven by humans. The report’s 89 authors are urging world leaders to reach an ambitious agreement at the Cop15 biodiversity summit in Canada this December and to slash carbon emissions to limit global heating to below 1.5C this decade to halt the rampant destruction of nature.

Huge scale of human-driven loss of species demands urgent action, say world’s leading scientists

Published by Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

One thought on “Largest loss of life on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs

  1. Hannah Ritchie, head of research at Oxford University’s Our World in Data, remarked: It should have said “Animal populations experience average decline of almost 70% since 1970”, as it does now.

    Whilst Patrick Greenfield admits that we are not the first to make this mistake and it shows the perils of reporting statistics.

    But the error gives us a chance to explore what this shocking number actually means. The good news is that humans have not wiped out 70% of life on Earth in just 48 years, although the truth is only slightly less bleak.

    The Living Planet Index is best understood as a stock index for wildlife. Companies like Apple, Microsoft and Tesla are part of the S&P500 index of the largest companies in the United States of America that we regularly hear about on the news. The S&P500 goes up when big American companies do well and falls when they drop in value.

    In the same way, the Living Planet Index is made up of datasets from about 32,000 populations of 5,230 animal species. When populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles increase, so does the index. The opposite happens when populations decline.
    The abundance of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles is fading fast as populations of sea lions, sharks, frogs and salmon collapse, driven by human behaviour.

    It is a sobering figure.

    “I see this as the most important of all issues: the collapse of the Earth systems on [which] we and all the living wonders with which we share this planet depend. It is happening in front of our eyes, and it should dominate the news everywhere, every day,” wrote George Monbiot in response to the report.

    Crucially, these wildlife populations have not disappeared yet, contrary to what our initial headline suggested. We are squeezing out the animals with which we share our planet. Where there were many, now there are few.

    The fall was particularly calamitous in Latin America and the Caribbean, which has seen a 94% drop in the abundance of animals. Africa had the second largest fall at 66%, followed by Asia and the Pacific with 55% and North America at 20%. Europe and Central Asia experienced an 18% fall.

    But there is still time to do something about it.

    In Montreal this December, governments will negotiate this decade’s targets for protecting nature at Cop15. The UN’s biodiversity convention, often overshadowed by its climate counterpart, has a history of failure. Governments have never met a target they have set for themselves in full. The report authors said that had to change if we want to see the Living Planet Index increase.

    “The only way that we are going to be able to legislate or call for that is to have these clear measurable targets that ask for recovery of abundance, reduction of extinction risk and the ceasing of extinctions at Cop15,” said Robin Freeman, head of the indicators and assessments unit at ZSL.

    “We now have more data than ever about trends in biodiversity. Across a variety of indicators, it’s clear we are being sent a serious message and urgent action is needed.”

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