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Civilisation as we know it is at risk thanks to the extensive destruction of wildlife in recent decades, according to a damning and urgent report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). 60% of the Earth’s mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians have been killed since 1970 – and the we’ve all entered a new mass extinction event, the first ever instigated by another living creature.
A collection of the world’s leading experts and scientists have given another stark warning about humanity’s boundless destruction. 59 top researchers have contributed to the WWF’s report, which finds that human activity is catastrophically tearing apart ecosystems and food chains across every corner of the planet – and everything, from food, to clean air, to fresh water, is affected.
Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF, said of the findings, “If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.
“This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is. This is actually now jeopardising the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”
Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF, also said, “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.”
Many key figures in environmental science believe that humanity has caused a new mass extinction event – the first in over 66 million years. Recent studies support this idea, claiming that humans have eradicated 83% of all mammals (not 83% of species – 83% of total populations) and half of all plant life since the dawn of civilisation. Even if this ceased immediately, Earth could take seven million years to recover naturally.
The report claims that the destruction of natural habitats for farmland is the biggest cause of this drop (something which may be exacerbated if Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies are enacted in Brazil). Hunting and fishing are the next biggest killers – 300 mammal species are being “eaten into extinction” – and chemical pollution is also having an unimaginable impact.
The 60% drop is not equal across the world – South and Central America has seen a monstrous 89% fall in vertebrate life since 1970. Freshwater lakes and rivers have seen 83% of their wildlife populations lost.
In related – and more positive – news, the EU is planning to ban single-use plastics, and over 250 international corporations are vowing to go plastic free.
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