We all know that the Earth must be better protected from development and deforestation, and that our consumption needs to be limited while food and energy have to be produced sustainably. So, how is it that we all know that, but we have managed to wipe out, through our unsustainable consumption, half of the wildlife populations in 40 years?
World wildlife populations plunge by 52% since 1970 – if this didn’t make us reflect, it is hard to imagine what would.
We are using natural resources as if we had more than just one Earth at our disposal, using 50 per cent more resources than the Earth can provide. To quote the most recent Living Planet report: ‘We are cutting down trees faster than they can re-grow, harvesting more fish than the oceans can re-stock, pumping water from rivers faster than rainfall can replenish them, and emitting more carbon than oceans and forests can absorb’.
Various analysts and journalists have described the situation as a ‘speedy destruction’, ‘unsustainable degradation’, ‘terrifying decline’. One of the commentators called this a ‘war on the living world.’ But how are we going to ‘win’? By reducing the number of wildlife even further? Actually, such ‘win’ can already be claimed, as populations of freshwater species have suffered an even worse decline of 76%.
Every other year the Living Planet report paints a rather painful picture of the changing state of global biodiversity and the pressure on the biosphere arising from unsustainable human consumption of natural resources. It also provides interesting statistics. The one published in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis, for example, warned that the world was heading for an ‘ecological credit crunch’ far worse than the financial crisis, because the cost of an ‘ecological debt’ we run every year – $4tr (£2.5tr) to $4.5tr – is twice as high as the estimated losses made by the world’s financial institutions as a result of the credit crisis.
The report concluded that if nothing changes by 2030, we will need two planets to sustain the lifestyle of living beyond our means. So perhaps, instead of joining other commentators in helpless we-need-to-stop-and-act-now calls, I am going to ask a fairy to conjure up another planet Earth please.
Unreasonable? Look at the ‘52% plunge in wildlife life’ headline and tell me what is harder to comprehend.
Here’s a link to the story in pictures: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2014/sep/29/wildlife-numbers-plunge-by-50-since-1970-wwf-in-pictures