The importance of doing what we can to save the planet becomes even more evident as the WWF have reported this is the ‘last generation’ who can save nature.
In this year’s Living Planet Index, the WWF revealed humans have wiped out approximately 60 per cent of the population of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970.
The ever-increasing consumption of food and resources demanded by the global population, leading to pollution, deforestation and climate change, is destroying life which has been billions of years in the making.
The report said the current rates of species extinction are now up to 1,000 times higher than before human involvement in animal ecosystems became an issue, and added that 90 per cent of seabirds now have plastic in their stomachs, compared to just five per cent in 1960.
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, explained the astounding damages being done to our planet in the Living Planet Report, saying:
There cannot be a healthy, happy and prosperous future for people on a planet with a destabilized climate, depleted oceans and rivers, degraded land and empty forests, all stripped of biodiversity, the web of life that sustains us all.
In the next years, we need to urgently transition to a net carbon neutral society and halt and reverse nature loss – through green finance, clean energy and environmentally friendly food production.
We must also preserve and restore enough land and ocean in a natural state.
In a statement, WWF UK Chief Executive Tanya Steele made clear how pressing these issues are, saying:
We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.
If we want a world with orangutans and puffins, clean air and enough food for everyone, we need urgent action from our leaders and a new global deal for nature and people that kick starts a global program of recovery.
The report revealed that over the past 50 years, our ‘Ecological Footprint’ – one measure of our consumption of natural resources – has increased by about 190%.
In order to alter our excessive consumption and create a more sustainable system, the report explains there will need to be major changes to production, supply and consumption activities.
Though we already have some goals in place to prevent the destruction mankind is causing to the planet, the WWF point out ‘current targets and consequent actions amount, at best, to a managed decline.’
In response to the report, John Sauven, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, said:
The collapse of wildlife populations over the last half-century is a shocking measure of humanity’s impact on our planet.
From the decline of orangutans due to deforestation for palm oil to the ruinous impact of climate change on Arctic habitats to plastic pollution destroying marine wildlife, we cannot continue with business as usual.
Now that we have the power to control and even damage nature, we continue to (use) it as if we were the hunters and gatherers of 20,000 years ago, with the technology of the 21st century.
We’re still taking nature for granted, and it has to stop.
Every step we take towards helping the environment is a step in the right direction.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.