We’ve done it this time.
The World Wildlife Foundation released its annual report on the state of the natural world and you guessed it– majorly depressing. One of the most jarring findings of the Living Planet Report 2018 is that human impact is responsible for wiping out 60 percent of the earth’s biodiversity since only 1970!
Intensive resource exploitation appears to be the main cause, per the report:
“While climate change is a growing threat, the main drivers of biodiversity decline continue to be the overexploitation of species, agriculture and land conversion,” says the report.
While the mind often wanders to charismatic megafauna when we think of species in danger of extinction– large mammals like polar bears, orcas, or elephants, say– other members of the animal kingdom actually have it much worse. The report’s Living Planet Index found an 83% decline in biodiversity of all freshwater species since 1970.
In a release accompanying the report, WWF leadership summed up its significance:
“This report sounds a warning shot across our bow. Natural systems essential to our survival – forests, oceans, and rivers – remain in decline. Wildlife around the world continue to dwindle,” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF-US. “It reminds us we need to change course. It’s time to balance our consumption with the needs of nature, and to protect the only planet that is our home.”
To address this planetary precipice staring down the Earth’s wildlife, the World Wildlife Fund recommends adopting a version of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, which “has helped an estimated 99 percent of listed species avoid extinction,” but on a global scope more akin to the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement.
The Trump administration released a call to weaken the Endangered Species Act this past July.