Animal populations worldwide have declined nearly 70% in just 50 years, new report says - CBS News
Sep 11, 2020 1 min, 57 secs

Every two years, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) releases its landmark report, revealing how far species populations have declined since 1970 — an important marker for the overall health of ecosystems.

The report blames humans alone for the "dire" state of the planet.

The report points to land-use change — in particular, the destruction of habitats like rainforests for farming — as the key driver for loss of biodiversity, accounting for more than half of the loss in Europe, Central Asia, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Where and how humans produce food is one of the biggest threats to nature, the report says.

Food waste is responsible for at least 6% of global greenhouse gas emissions — three times more than that from aviation — and nearly one-quarter of those emissions come from wasted food.

Species overexploitation, invasive species and diseases and pollution are all considered threats to biodiversity, the report said.

However, human-caused climate change is projected to become as, or more important than, other drivers of biodiversity loss in the coming decades.

Climate change creates an ongoing destructive feedback loop in which the worsening climate leads to the decline in genetic variability, species richness and populations, and that loss of biodiversity adversely affects the climate.

But these wilderness areas are facing irreversible erosion, affecting other species and humans' ability to adapt to climate change.

Humans depend on marine ecosystems to provide food, climate regulation, carbon storage and coastal protection — all of which are affected by these activities and are exacerbated by climate change.

The rate of infectious disease emergence has increased dramatically over the past 80 years — and nearly half of these diseases are connected to land-use change, agriculture and the food industry.

Similarly to the economic crash in 2008, lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic have reduced humanity's demand by nearly 10% — a change that experts say is unlikely to last without major structural change.

To feed 10 billion people by 2050, humans will need to adopt a healthier way of eating — both for themselves and for the planet.

Diet-related disease risk is the leading cause of premature mortality globally and food production is the main driver of biodiversity loss and water pollution, also accounting for 20-30% of greenhouse gas emissions.

General Assembly beginning September 15 to address them — only then can humans "bend the curve" of biodiversity loss.


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