News You Really Need To See: “Study: Half of Wildlife Lost in 40 Years”

“Study: Half of Wildlife Lost in 40 Years”

The Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2014, p.A3

http://online.wsj.com/articles/report-wildlife-numbers-drop-by-half-since-1970-1412085197

Earth lost half its wildlife in the past four decades, according to the most comprehensive study of animal populations to date, a far larger decline than previously reported.  The new study was conducted by scientists at the wildlife group WWF, the Zoological Society of London and other organizations.  Based on an analysis of thousands of vertebrate species, it concludes that overall animal populations fell 52% between 1970 and 2010.  The decline was seen everywhere—in rivers, on land and in the seas—and is mainly the result of increased habitat destruction, commercial fishing and hunting, the report said.  Climate change also is believed to be a factor, though its consequences are harder to measure. … The fastest declines were seen in rivers and other freshwaters systems, where populations fell 76% since 1970.  By comparison, terrestrial and marine populations each fell 39%.  While biodiversity continues to decline in both temperate and tropical parts of the world, the downward trend is greater in the tropics.  The most dramatic decline was in Latin America, where overall populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish fell 83%.  Asia-Pacific wasn’t far behind. … The report calculates a global ‘ecological footprint,’ which measures the area required to supply the ecological goods and services humans use.  It concludes that humanity currently needs the regenerative capacity of 1.5 Earths to supply these goods and services each year.”

Quickie Analysis:  Most of this biodiversity loss is irreplaceable and we aren’t likely to be getting another half planet soon.  Clearly, there is a major, systematic problem with the way humans interact with the planet.

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