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Animal populations have declined nearly 70% since 1970 due to agriculture, report says

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Much of the destruction and loss of animal habitats is for agriculture, which is responsible for 80% of global deforestation and makes up 70% of freshwater use.

CBS NEWS: It’s impossible to deny — humans are changing and destroying the natural environment at an unprecedented and alarming rate. According to a new report, animal populations have declined by such a staggering amount, that only an overhaul of the world’s economic systems could possibly reverse the damage… Destruction of ecosystems has threatened 1 million species — 500,000 animals and plants and 500,000 insects — with extinction, much of which can be prevented with conservation and restoration efforts…

Nearly 21,000 monitored populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians, encompassing almost 4,400 species around the world, have declined an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet Report 2020. Species in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as global freshwater habitats, were disproportionately impacted, declining, on average, 94% and 84%, respectively.

Every two years, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) releases its landmark report, revealing how far species populations have declined since 1970 — an important marker for the overall health of ecosystems. The latest report indicates that the rate populations are declining “signal a fundamentally broken relationship between humans and the natural world, the consequences of which — as demonstrated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — can be catastrophic”…

The report blames humans alone for the “dire” state of the planet. It points to the exponential growth of human consumption, population, global trade and urbanization over the last 50 years as key reasons for the unprecedented decline of Earth’s resources — which it says the planet is incapable of replenishing.

The overuse of these finite resources by at least 56% has had a devastating effect on biodiversity, which is crucial to sustaining human life on Earth. “It is like living off 1.56 Earths,” Mathis Wackernagel, David Lin, Alessandro Galli and Laurel Hanscom from the Global Footprint Network said in the report.

The report points to land-use change — in particular, the destruction of habitats like rainforests for farming — as the key driver for loss of biodiversity, accounting for more than half of the loss in Europe, Central Asia, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Much of that land is being used for agriculture, which is responsible for 80% of global deforestation and makes up 70% of freshwater use. Using this much land requires a vast food system that releases 29% of global greenhouse gases, and the excessive amount of land and water that people are using has killed 70% of terrestrial biodiversity and 50% of freshwater biodiversity. Many species simply cannot survive under the new conditions forced upon them when their habitats are altered by humans. SOURCE…

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