By 2020 the earth’s population of mammals, birds, fish and invertebrate species will have declined by more than 60% since 1970, putting the world on course for the first mass extinction of animal life since the dinosaurs.
The figures come in a new report from the WWF and the Zoological Society of London, which paints a pretty grim picture of human impact on earth, but it’s not all bad news.
“It’s important to know that these are not species being lost, or even populations being lost, these are declines that can still be reversed. So we do have a chance, if we put the right things in place, that we can actually make a difference and start reversing these trends,” explained Louise McRae, Project Manager for the Living Planet Report.
The report gives traction to the idea that the world is entering a new era, called the Anthropocene, a geological epoch defined by a mass die-off of plant and animal life driven by human activity. The study cites the Global Footprint Network, which claims that humanity is currently using the resources of 1.6 planets to provide the goods and services used in a year.
“We know the causes of this environmental decline,” said Trevor Hutchings, Director of Advocacy. “Things like pollution, it’s about overconsumption, it’s about habitat destruction, it’s about overuse of water, overfishing. And all of that is compounded by the effects of climate change.”
The authors point to the Paris Climate Deal as a beacon of hope, if the signatory nations stick to their sustainable development promises.