Worrying new information has been brought to light, after a recent study conducted by WWF.
The report has found that since 1970, 60 per cent of animal populations have been wiped out as a direct impact of humanity. In the wake of these figures, and with World Vegan Day fast approaching, it’s useful to remind ourselves why spreading the vegan message is so important – for the planet, and animals and humans worldwide.
The major report produced by WWF involved 59 scientists from across the globe. The saddening results found that the immense consumption of food and resources by humans worldwide is destroying the intricate web of life that has taken billions of years to spin. Human society depends upon nature for clean water, air, food, and everything else, so it’s terrible news for – for life as we know it.
“We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff,” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “If there was a 60 per cent decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”
“This is far more than just being about losing the wonders of nature, desperately sad though that is,” Barrett said. “This is actually jeopardising the future of people. Nature is not a ‘nice to have’ – it is our life-support system.”
Professor Johan Rockstöm, global sustainability expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, also commented: “We are rapidly running out of time. Only by addressing both ecosystems and climate do we stand a chance of safeguarding a stable planet for humanity’s future on Earth.”
The study, titled the Living Planet Index, was carried out for WWF by the Zoological Society of London. It used data on 16,704 populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, representing more than 4,000 species to chart the decline of wildlife. The Zoological Society used the latest information available, between 1970 and 2014, and found that animal populations fell by an average of 60 per cent. Four years ago, the decline was 52 per cent, so it’s clear that the wildlife crash is continuing unabated.
Professor Bob Watson, leading environmental scientist and chair of an intergovernmental panel on biodiversity, remarked: ‘“Nature contributes to human well-being culturally and spiritually, as well as through the critical production of food, clean water, and energy, and through regulating the Earth’s climate, pollution, pollination and floods. The Living Planet report clearly demonstrates that human activities are destroying nature at an unacceptable rate, threatening the well-being of current and future generations.”
One of the largest causes of wildlife reduction is the destruction of natural habitats. In fact, three-quarters of all land is used for or affected by human activities. Animal agriculture is the next biggest cause, with a whopping 300 mammal species being eaten into extinction.
The world’s nations are working towards a crunch meeting of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020, when new commitments for the protection of nature will be made. “We need a new global deal for nature and people and we have this narrow window of less than two years to get it,” said Barrett. “This really is the last chance. We have to get it right this time.”
Wildlife and the ecosystems are vital to all life, so we must try to reduce habitat destruction and animal-agriculture. As vegans, we’re already doing our bit, but if we can spread the vegan message even further, than we might help to halt the damage of our planet that little bit more. World Vegan Day will provide multiple opportunities to garner interest in veganism; hopefully, if people take note of the figures found in WWF’s report, then future studies in animal populations won’t come back with such harrowing results.