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World’s Wildlife Populations Plummets By 70%, WWF Reports

The preservation of nature and all living beings that it hosts is critical to mankind’s survival. The increasingly concerning threats of climate change has now begun to claim another victim – the vast wildlife populations on earth. One of the 17 sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations (UN) is ‘life on land’ – to sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss. Experts have continuously debated the extent to which human activity has altered the earth’s surface pushing wildlife and nature into a minute corner.


 


An earlier Global Assessment Report of 2019 had estimated approximately 1 million animal and plant species around Earth to be threatened with extinction, many within few decades. It also found that the health on which mankind and other species hugely sustain is deteriorating at a stunning rate affecting the very “foundations” of livelihood, food security, and quality of life worldwide. Therefore, the situation calls for “immediate transformative changes” to protect the natural environment.


 


Now, a fresh report released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) last week, records a telling 70% decline in wildlife populations since the 1970s.


 


What is the crux of the WWF report?


 


The findings of the report can be summarized into the following points:


 



  • Wildlife populations in the Caribbean and Latin America have fallen the most, averaging 94%. Global freshwater species have disproportionately reduced in number, averaging 83%.

  • Some of the significant factors contributing to this decline in biodiversity are habitat loss, species overexploitation, invasive species, pollution, climate change, and diseases. 

  • Adding to the report, the Living Planet Index (LPI) by the Zoological Society of London examines over 32000 species to establish an extensive measurement of how wildlife is coping with environmental pressures. 

  • Specifically, some of the species captured in the LPI are- Amazon pink river dolphin, which reduced in numbers between 1994-2016; the Eastern lowland gorilla, whose numbers show an 80% decline; the Australian sea lion, which plummeted by two-thirds between 1977-2019. 


 


Addressing the alarming threats that the WWF report might pose for the future of wildlife, chief scientist at WWF, Rebecca Shaw believes, “It is very much a red flag and a warning signal the Earth’s support system is in trouble. The numbers point to a very sharp decline”. She adds, “These plunges in wildlife populations can have dire consequences for our health and economies. A decline to this degree means dramatic changes are impacting their habitats and the food and water they rely on”. 


 


Shaw and several other environmentalists and ecological scientists have called for a united attempt to care deeply about the “unraveling” of nature to sustain human life on earth. 


 


How is the decline likely to impact climate change?


 


A decline in wildlife populations and climate change has often been described as ‘twin crises’, which must be tackled together. According to a research piece by the European Commission, climate change is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss. Still, the destruction of ecosystems undermines nature’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and protect against extreme weather conditions, catalyzing climate change. Therefore, the situation can be viewed as ‘two sides of the same coin.’ 


 


The above theory put forward by scientists and scholars specifically holds true for an increasing number of countries in Europe that are facing regular bouts of climate change impacts – more prolonged periods of drought, fierce storms, heat waves, and wildfires. These catastrophes are directly linked to the loss of species in wildlife. 


 


First drafted by the United Nations in 1992, governments deal with climate change and biodiversity through two international agreements – UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Soon in December 2022, a meeting is scheduled in Canada to agree on a new framework that traces a reformative global plan to build an environment feasible for humans and wildlife together. 


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Tags: #Nature #ClimateChange #Wildlife #Biodiversity #WWF



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