WWF report reveals staggering human impact on planet

Cesar Mills
November 1, 2018

Since 1998 the Living Planet Report, a science-based assessment of the health of our planet, has been tracking the state of global biodiversity.

The report begins by addressing the economic impact that environmental degradation and species loss-the two go hand-in-hand-has already had and is predicted to continuing having on the world's economies.

WWF does offer a framework for Earth to paw its way back, advocating for the "need to radically escalate the political relevance of nature and galvanize a cohesive movement across state and non-state actors to drive change... After this time, human activities (Figure 1) begin to interfere significantly with Earth's life support system (Figure 2)".

Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at WWF said: "We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it". The report attributes the declines to habitat loss, pollution, climate change, over-exploitation and the spread of invasive species and diseases, underscoring environmentalists' concerns that human activity is taking a heavy toll. The main problem for biodiversity climate change. "The Earth is estimated to have lost about half of its shallow water corals in the past 30 years and 20% of the Amazon has disappeared in just 50 years", it said.

Pointing at the increasing impact of human beings on species loss, the report has said the planet is driving towards a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene.

The WWF, which has produced its "Living Planet" report every second year for the past 20 years, has called for an ambitious "global deal" for nature and people, similar to the worldwide Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

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The Living Planet Index uses data on 16,704 populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, representing more than 4,000 species, to track the decline of wildlife.

More concerning, the WWF's Living Planet Report 2018 concluded, among others, that we are witnessing a rapid closing of our window of opportunity to act and the urgent need for the global community to collectively reconsider and redefine the values and initiate immediate actions to stop and reverse the damage caused by the humanity to nature.

Global wildlife populations have fallen by 60 per cent since 1970. "Wildlife around the world continue to dwindle", said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF-US.

More generally, the marginal capacity of Earth's ecosystems to renew themselves has been far outstripped by humanity's ecological footprint, which has almost tripled in 50 years.

The Paris Agreement, negotiated under the United Nations convention on climate change, also set a clear target: global warming must be held to "well below" 2C, and 1.5C if possible. It's not even a blink of an eye compared to the history of life on Earth", Marco Lambertini, the WWF's director general said, describing the current crisis as "unprecedented.

The report authors suggest three steps for improvement and called on decision-makers at every level to take action. The Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement and Convention on Biological Diversity were evidence the world was trying to change the path for the natural world.

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