News / Science & Technology

WWF: Earth Biodiversity Declining Rapidly

Traditional trees of the Cerrado ecosystem in BrazilTraditional trees of the Cerrado ecosystem in Brazil
x
Traditional trees of the Cerrado ecosystem in Brazil
Traditional trees of the Cerrado ecosystem in Brazil
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA - The World Wide Fund For Nature warns the world is consuming more of the Earth's resources than the planet can bear.  WWF is launching its Living Planet Report just five weeks before nations gather at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to press political leaders into action to protect the earth for future generations.

The World Wide Fund for Nature calls the planet sick and says it has the statistics to prove that. WWF says its Living Planet index finds biodiversity has decreased globally by nearly 30 percent since 1970 and, in the hardest hit tropics, by 60 percent.

The report also measures the ecological footprint of nations; that is the accumulative pressure they put on the planet.  It gauges the total amount of land and resources used, including the amount of carbon emissions and compares this with how much land and sea is available.

WWF Director-General Jim Leape says there has been a huge increase and unsustainable demand for natural resources since 1961.  "So, at this point, we are using 50 percent more resources each year than the Earth can replenish. … We are living as if we had one-and-one-half planets to support us. … So, while we are now 50 percent over the earth's capacity to support us, by 2030 we would need two planets to support the way we are living - [and] by 2050, almost three planets. So, we are on a track that is clearly by any measure unsustainable," he said.

The report considers the impact of human population growth and over-consumption as critical driving forces behind environmental pressure.

WWF finds wealthy countries on average consume five times more natural resources than do poor countries. This is borne out by the top 10 countries with the biggest ecological footprint per person. They include three oil-producing countries in the Middle East, four European countries, the United States, Canada and Australia.  

The Living Planet Index notes declines in biodiversity since 1970 have been fastest in lower-income countries.  It says this demonstrates how the poorest and most vulnerable nations are subsidizing the lifestyles of wealthier countries.  

Jim Leape says time is running out for the planet, but it has not yet run out, and there are many actions nations and individuals can take to reverse biodiversity decline. He says some ecosystems must be protected, whether in the water or on land. He says some land must be put aside to maintain the health of the larger system.  

"It is also important that we are restoring native ecosystems and managing them in a way that sustains the basic integrity of those systems. So you will see this in the report: If countries step up and end net deforestation by 2020 - and many countries have already pledged to do this - then you could save 180 million hectares of forest by 2050, compared to business as usual," he said.

The environmentalists also are urging nations to become more energy-efficient. They say nations should develop renewable energy, in particular wind and solar. They say this can make nations fuel independent, save them money and slow down climate change by lowering carbon dioxide emissions. They are calling for better water management and a stop to over-fishing.

WWF says individuals can do a lot to preserve the world's dwindling resources by becoming smarter consumers. It says they can choose to walk rather than drive, they can buy food produced closer to home than that which is transported long distances. It says people can use the power of the ballot box to vote in politicians who are environmentally friendly and oust those who are not.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid