Mankind is wip­ing out wildlife

The Week (US) - - 20 News -

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, “and the last one that can do any­thing about it.”

An ele­phant rum­mages in a Sri Lankan dump.

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