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article imageWWF report: global wildlife populations drop 52% since 1970

By Martin Laine     Sep 30, 2014 in Environment
The numbers of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians experienced a 52 percent decline in the 40-year period between 1970 and 2010, mainly as a result of over-hunting and habitat destruction.
The World Wildlife Fund’s 2014 Living Planet also details dangerous environmental conditions, including levels of carbon in the atmosphere that are the highest in more than a million years, increasing scarcity of clean water, and degraded land, rivers and oceans.
“We’re gradually destroying our planet’s ability to support our way of life,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the WWF in a press release. “But we already have the knowledge and tools to avoid the worst predictions."
The report looks at data in three areas — populations of 10,000 vertebrate species; effects of human activity; and the amount of natural resources available for food, fresh water, and storing carbon.
Jon Hoekstra, WWF’s chief scientist, said that behind the massive collection of data, several trends are apparent.
“What’s not complicated are the clear trends we’re seeing — 39 percent of terrestrial wildlife gone, 39 percent marine wildlife gone, 76 percent of freshwater wildlife gone, all in the past 40 years,” he said.
The report also reveals marked differences between countries, based on their income levels.
Middle income countries showed an 18 percent decline in wildlife populations, while low-income countries the decline spikes to 58 percent. Hardest hit is Latin America, where species populations have experienced an 83 percent decline. Meanwhile, affluent, high-income countries have actually experienced a 10 percent increase in biodiversity.
At the same time, high-income countries are consuming natural resources at a far greater rate than low-income countries.
“High-income countries use five times the ecological resources of low-income countries, but low-income countries are suffering the greatest ecosystem losses,” said Keya Chaterjee, senior director footprint for WWF. “In effect, wealthy nations are outsourcing resource depletion.”
“This damage is not inevitable, but a consequence of the way we choose to live,” said Prof. Ken Norris, director of science at the London Zoological Society, a participant in the report, in an article in The Guardian.
To reverse these trends, the report commends developing smarter food and energy production technologies, responsible consumption practices, and consideration of impacts on natural resources in development and planning policies.
More about Wwf, Living Planet Report, Biodiversity
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