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Are we heading towards a mass extinction?

Are we heading towards a mass extinction?

A mass extinction is occurring and reports are indicating that we could lose two-thirds of our wild animals by 2020.

Are we heading towards a mass extinction?

A new report released in collaboration with WWF has highlighted the astronomical loss suffered by the animal population of earth.

The analysis highlights the harrowing figures that show the animal population plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, and is on track to reach 67% by 2020.

The report was compiled by researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London and found that humans have been responsible for this huge decline.

The biggest reasons for the disappearance of these species, were the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution.

The results follow the idea that we have entered the Anthropocene – a period whereby the human race has transitioned from the Holocene into a new geological epoch that sees humans dominate the planet.

“We are no longer a small world on a big planet. We are now a big world on a small planet, where we have reached a saturation point,” said Prof Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, in a foreword for the report.

“Lose biodiversity and the natural world including the life support systems as we know them will collapse. We depend on nature for the air we breathe, water we drink, the food and materials we use and the economy we rely on, and not least, for our health, inspiration and happiness”, said Marco Lambertini, Director General WWF International.

“For decades scientists have been warning that human actions are pushing life toward a sixth mass extinction. Evidence in this year’s Living Planet Report supports this.”

According to the report, the biggest culprit of falling numbers is the destruction of natural habitats for farming and logging, with just 15% of habitat across the world being protected.

Poaching and hunting is another huge factor in the decimation of more than 300 mammal species.

Pollution is also a huge issue when it comes to the fall of many species.

According to the report, species found in rivers and lakes have been the hardest hit, with an unbelievable 81% of its populations becoming extinct due to excessive water extraction, dams and pollution – all magnified by global warming, according to WWF’s director of science, Mike Barrett.

“We need to transition to an approach that decouples human and economic development from environmental degradation”, says Marco Lambertini, “perhaps the deepest cultural and behavioural shifts ever experienced by any civilization.

“These changes are upon us, and if we are awed by the scale of the challenges that this generation is facing, we should be equally motivated by the unprecedented opportunity to build a future in harmony with the planet.”

So is there anything that can be done?

The report outlines an holistic direction in terms of combatting the further destruction of species, and points to a more sustainable future for planet Earth.

“The 21st century presents humanity with a dual challenge: to maintain nature in all of its many forms and functions and to create an equitable home for people on a finite planet. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development combines the economic, social and ecological dimensions necessary to sustain human society through the Anthropocene. These dimensions are all interconnected and must therefore be addressed in an integrated manner. Furthermore, a basic understanding must inform development strategies, economic models, business models and lifestyle choices: we have only one planet and its natural capital is limited. ”

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