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Half of Global Wildlife Lost in 40 Years: WWF

Posted by feww on September 30, 2014

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Populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish drop 52% since 1970

Global populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish have plunged 52 percent, says the 2014 Living Planet Report released today by World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“There is a lot of data in this report and it can seem very overwhelming and complex,” said  the chief scientist at WWF. “What’s not complicated are the clear trends we’re seeing—39 percent of terrestrial wildlife gone, 39 percent of marine wildlife gone, 76 percent of freshwater wildlife gone—all in the past 40 years.”

The Gross ‘Misunderstatement’

Then comes the understatement of the Anthropocene, or even Era Vulgaris:

“We’re gradually destroying our planet’s ability to support our way of life,” said president and CEO of WWF.

Gradually, indeed!

After all, the oldest traces of life on earth dates back about 3.7 billion years, and in a mere 40-year period, the wildlife populations have been annihilated.

The Worst Decline

The WWF’s “Living Planet Index” is based on trends among 10,380 populations of 3,038 wildlife species.

The worst decline has occurred among populations of freshwater species, which plunged by 76 percent during the report period (1976 – 2010).

Both the terrestrial and marine (species in decline include sea turtles, many sharks, and large migratory seabirds like albatross) numbers have declined by 39 percent.

The average 52 percent decline was nearly TWICE larger than the previous figure reported by WWF two  years ago, which put the loss at 28 percent for the period  1970 – 2008.

Ocean Greenery Under Stress

According to a study on phytoplankton decline, which was published in 2010, the average global phytoplankton concentration in the upper ocean was declining by about 1% per year. Between 1950 and 2000, “algal biomass decreased by around 40%, probably in response to ocean warming—and the decline has gathered pace in recent years.”

[Isn’t it interesting to see how everyone is re-adjusting their “extinction clocks?” —Editor]

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