A WWF’s new report shows in numbers what we all, at different extents, are witnessing: animals are disappearing from this planet. Between 1970 and 2012, more than a half (58%) of the populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles vanished, according to the 2016 Planet Living Report. The largest drop has been seen among fresh water species, where it was registered a decline of 81%. By 2020, we could see a global biodiversity loss of two-thirds unless we start to act now.
“We need to transition to an approach that decouples human and economic development from environmental degradation—perhaps the deepest cultural and behavioral shifts ever experienced by any civilization”, states Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, in the report. “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”.
Some scientists claim that we are pushing life towards the 6th mass extinction. This report supports such conclusion. The most well-known mass extinction wiped out the dinosaurs. But differently from the others, the one we may face would be caused by one single species: us! The good news is that, if we are driving the global biodiversity decline, we can stop it and maybe lead it to recover.
Currently, we are consuming the equivalent of 1.6 Earths to meet our needs on natural resources and absorb our waste. In other words, it takes a year and a half to regenerate what we use in one year. What we eat plays a huge role on the global biodiversity decline. Agriculture alone covers about a third of Earth’s land surface, accounts for 80% of deforestation and 70% of freshwater consumption. The sector is also a great emitter of greenhouse gases.
The scenario is surely challenging, but there are already many good initiatives taking place. So let’s keep the optimism and go for the change through daily habits, such as food consumption.
Ways to do that include eating locally and seasonably, choosing certified sustainable foods, refusing to eat endangered or threatened fish species, lowering the consumption of meat and dairy products as well as reducing food waste. More insights on green eating habits will come soon in the next posts.