The Earth just before the Burnout

According to a report by the environmental organization WWF, the number of worldwide living vertebrates has shrunk drastically in recent decades.

The report uses data from the Zoological Society of London. The scientific society monitors in the Living Plant Index 16’704 populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians – representing more than 4’000 species in total. According to the published Living Planet Report, which summarizes the health status of the world on 148 pages, the stock of wild vertebrates has declined by 60 percent since 1970 due to human activities.

Particularly dramatic is the decline of vertebrate populations that live in water. This is partly due to plastic waste in the oceans.

According to the Living Planet Report, created by the WWF in collaboration with 59 scientists around the world, the main reason for the dramatic decline of vertebrate populations is the loss of wildlife habitat because of agriculture, mining and the growth of cities due to global overpopulation. At the same time, the report documents the growing demand of mankind for natural resources. «Our lifestyle is like chain smoking and coma drinking at the expense of the planet», explains Jörg-Andreas Krüger from WWF Germany.

«The situation is really bad and is getting worse», says WWF Director Marco Lambertini. He warns that preservation of nature does not just mean protecting popular animals such as tigers, pandas and whales. There can be no future for mankind if the earth is robbed of its biological diversity.

«We urgently need to rethink how we use nature and what value we attach to it – culturally, economically and on our political agenda», warns Thomas Vellacott, Managing Director of WWF Switzerland. The earth is facing a burnout.

China’s easing of trade and the use of tiger bones and rhinoceros horns is also causing strong criticism at this time. The Beijing State Council has legalized trade in tiger bones and rhinoceros horns of farmed animals. According to the government’s announcement, the use of these products for research and treatment in traditional Chinese medicine should be allowed.

«We sleepwalk right up to a cliff», warns WWF science coordinator Mike Barnett in the British newspaper The Guardian. Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, many scientists believe that the sixth major mass extinction of Earth’s history has begun. It would be the first to be caused by one species – Homo sapiens. Even if the extermination of the animals would now end, the earth would take five to seven million years to recover.

«The massacre of wildlife is about a lot more than just losing miracles of nature – though that’s bad enough. We are actually jeopardizing people’s future», says Barnett.

Nature is not just „nice to have“. On the contrary: It is our life support system!