The new report says that in just 50 years, the world animal population has fallen by almost 70%


It is impossible to deny – humans are destroying the natural environment at an unprecedented and alarming rate. According to a new report Tuesday, Animal population The fallout from such a staggering amount, that only an overhaul of the world’s economic systems can reverse the loss.

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2020, around 21,000 monitoring of mammals, fishes, birds, reptiles and amphibians, covering about 4,400 species worldwide, has fallen by an average of 68%. Species in the Americas and the Caribbean, as well as global freshwater habitats, were disproportionately affected by 94% and 84%, respectively.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) releases its Landmark Report every two years, which shows how much the population of the species has declined since the 1970s – an important marker for the overall health of ecosystems. The latest report suggests that the rate is declining in population “indicate a radically broken relationship between humans and the natural world, the result of which – as demonstrated by ongoing Kovid-19 Epidemic – May cause havoc. “

“This report reminds us that we destroy the planet in our crisis – because it is our home,” said WWF’s US president and CEO Carter Roberts in a statement. “As humanity’s footprint spreads once in wild places, we are destroying the species population. But we are also growing. Climate change And there is an increased risk of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19. We cannot save humanity from the effects of environmental destruction. It is time to restore our broken relationship with nature for the benefit of species and people. “

TOPSHOT - Brazil - Environmental Fire
A donkey is tied on August 16, 2020, next to a burnt area of ​​the Amazon rainforest reserve south of Novo Progreso in the state of Pará.

Carly Day SOUZA / AFP via Getty Image


Man is to blame

The report blames humans alone for the “critical” state of the planet. This indicates the exponential growth of human consumption, population, global trade and urbanization in the last 50 years. Unprecedented fall Earth’s resources – which it says are unable to replenish the planet.

At least 56% overuse of these finite resources has had a devastating effect on biodiversity, which is important for maintaining human life on Earth. “It’s like living on 1.56 Earth,” said Mathis Vecernagel, David Lin, Alessandro Gali and Laurel Hanscom from the Global Footprint Network.

The report points to land-use change – in particular, the destruction of habitats such as rainforests for farming – as major drivers for loss of biodiversity, with half in Europe, Central Asia, North America, Latin America, and the Americas Caribbean accounting for losses over.

That land is being used more Agriculture, Which is responsible for 80% of global deforestation and accounts for 70% of freshwater use. Using this land requires a huge food system that releases 29% of the global greenhouse gases, and the excessive amount of land and water that people are using has created 70% terrestrial biodiversity and 50% fresh Has killed the biodiversity of water. Many species simply cannot survive under those new conditions when their habitats are changed by humans.

The destruction of the ecosystem is threatened 1 million species – 500,000 animals and plants and 500,000 insects – with extinction, most of which can be prevented by conservation and restoration efforts.

Amazon rainforest fire
Healthy vegetation sits in the Amazon rainforest in the Brazilian state of Rondônia with a farm scorched by fire.

Leonardo Carato / Bloomberg / Getty Images


Food industry needs an overhaul

The report says that how and how humans produce food is the biggest threat to nature. Habitat loss and deforestation cause a lot food production And consumption.

One third of all terrestrial land is used for crop and animal breeding. And 75% of all water extracted from available freshwater resources is used for crops or livestock. If current habitats are similar, researchers estimate that the Cropland area could be 10–25% larger in 2050 than in 2005, just to accommodate the increasing demand for food. This increase is expected despite facing more than 820 million people Food insecurity, Indicating that a large part of agriculture is being wasted.

According to the report, food waste and waste cost US $ 1 trillion in economic costs, $ 700 billion in environmental costs, and approximately $ 900 billion in social costs.

Worldwide, an estimated one-third of all food produced for humans is Lost or wasted – About 1.4 billion tonnes every year. Food waste accounts for at least 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than three times that of aviation – and nearly one-quarter of those emissions come from wasted food.

Holstein-Freshian Beef
Cattle on a dairy farm in Saxony on June 6, 2020.

Sebastian Wilno / Picture Alliance via Getty Image


Role of climate change

Species overexploitation, invasive species The report states that diseases and pollution are considered threats to biodiversity. However, human reason Climate change The loss of biodiversity is projected to become as significant, or more important, in the coming decades.

Climate change creates a continuous destructive response loop in which deteriorating climate leads to genetic variability, species richness and population decline, and loss of biodiversity adversely affects climate. For example, deforestation causes an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which heats the planet and spreads rapidly. Forest fire.

There are areas without a human footprint in just a handful of countries – Russia, Canada, Brazil and Australia. But these forest areas are experiencing irreversible erosion, affecting the ability of other species and humans to adapt to climate change.

According to the report, no part of the sea is completely unaffected by its destruction, Pollution, Coastal development and other human-caused stress. Human beings depend on marine ecosystems to provide food, climate regulation, carbon storage and coastal protection – all of these are affected by these activities and affected by climate change.

“These places are disappearing before our eyes,” said James Watson from the University of Queensland and WCS, Brooke Williams from the University of Queensland and Oscar Venter from the University of Northern British Columbia.

Polar Bear, Repulse Bay, Nunavut, Canada
A polar bear stands on melting sea ice at sunset near Harbor Island in Canada.

Paul Sowders | Worldphoto / getty images


The link between the health of people and the planet

in between Destructive forest And the COVID-19 epidemic, 2020, has made it clear that humans and nature are never more interconnected. The report suggests that natural support for human life is declining rapidly – and it is up to citizens, governments and business leaders to come together on a scale never seen before to do something about it.

Experts expressed concern that several major benefits in human health over the past 50 years – such as reduction in child mortality and poverty and increased life expectancy – Undo or even reverse Due to loss of nature.

The rate of infectious disease emergence has increased dramatically in the last 80 years – and nearly half of these diseases are associated with land-use change, agriculture, and the food industry. A study citing the report shows that diseases Originating in animals The disease accounted for 2.5 billion cases and deaths of about 3 million people every year.

“How humanity chooses to overcome the COVID-19 epidemic, and how it addresses the threats posed by global environmental change, will affect the health of generations to come,” wrote Thomas Pienkowski and Sarah Whitmy of Oxford University is.

California wildfire
Firefighters monitor the burning of bear fires on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 in Oroville, California. The explosion, part of the North Complex with lightning, sparked, expanded at a significant rate of spread as winds circulated in the area.

Noah Berger / AP


What can be done?

Lockdown due to coronovirus epidemic, similar to economic crash in 2008 Reduced the demand for humanity About 10% – a change that experts say is unlikely to remain without major structural changes.

While the report presents a sad picture for the future of the natural world, it urges that current trends can be flattened with immediate action, and also reversal. It emphasizes the need for world leaders to overhaul the food production and consumption industries – taking deforestation completely off the supply chains and making trade more sustainable among other things.

Only in the last year, natural disasters, from California wildfires For severe drought in Australia, it cost billions of dollars globally. Experts cautioned that economic decision-makers have to take into account not only produced and human capital, but also natural capital when formulating public and private policy.

To feed 10 billion people by 2050, humans will need to adopt Healthy way of eating – both for themselves and for the planet. Dietary disease risk is the leading cause of premature mortality globally and food production is the main driver of biodiversity loss and water pollution, accounting for 20–30% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Experts recommend that humans adopt a diet that has a balanced proportion of whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, beans, and pulses, in which animal-derived products such as fish, eggs, dairy, and meat are consumed in moderation.

The report called the above changes “non-negotiable” to preserve human health, wealth and safety and urged world leaders to gather for the UN General Assembly to address them at a conference starting on 15 September Is – only then can humans “twist” the loss of biodiversity.

“When the trends are worrying, there is reason to remain optimistic,” said WWF global head scientist Rebecca Shaw. “Younger generations are becoming acutely aware of the link between planetary health and their own futures, and they are demanding action from our leaders. Supporting us in their fight for a just and sustainable planet needed.”

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