Mankind is wiping out wildlife
Human activity has killed off 60 percent of the world’s wildlife populations since 1970, creating a crisis that could endanger the global economy and humanity itself. That’s the stark conclusion of the World Wildlife Fund’s latest biennial report, which warns that urgent action is required to prevent ecological disaster and reverse the existing devastation. The biggest cause of wildlife loss identified by 2018’s Living Planet Report is the destruction of natural habitats, largely to create farmland. Killing for food is the next big threat—300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction, and oceans are chronically overfished. Pollution is also a killer: Ninety percent of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs, up from 5 percent in 1960. The rate of species extinction—1,000 times higher today than it was before human activity became a factor—will have major knock-on effects. Crops could suffer, because more than a third are pollinated by insects and animals. Coral reefs protect some 200 million people against storm surges, but half of the world’s shallow-water reefs have already died off. The WWF is calling for a global treaty, similar to the Paris climate agreement, to save at-risk wildlife populations before it’s too late. “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet,” Tanya Steele, U.K. head of the WWF, tells CNN.com, “and the last one that can do anything about it.”
An elephant rummages in a Sri Lankan dump.