A major oil spill in the Ecuadorian Amazon in April has left the Coca River polluted. The indigenous Kichwa are suing the companies whose pipelines broke.
The Earth has lost 58% of its wildlife in the past 40 years
According to a new study, global wildlife populations are at risk and two thirds of all animal species may disappear in the next four years.
Amphibians, mammals, reptiles, fish and birds: most of the world’s wildlife is silently and inexorably facing decline. According to the report “Living Planet 2016”, conducted by WWF, the Zoological Society of London and the Stockholm Resilience Centre, global wildlife populations have fallen by 58 percent from 1970 to 2012.
Data of the decline
The study, published every two years to provide an assessment of the state of the world’s wildlife, looked at more than 14,000 populations of 3,706 different species of vertebrates from around the world and highlights an average decline of 2% every year. The report also reveals an even worse scenario: if we don’t take action to preserve these species, at least two-thirds of all animal species will disappear by 2020.
Why world’s wildlife is facing decline
The incessant decline of animal species is undoubtedly caused by human activities. As human populations are rapidly growing, there is less space for animals, so habitat loss caused by deforestation and the increase in agricultural lands is one of the main causes of the loss of biodiversity. Other causes include the illegal trade in wildlife, which is worth up to 19 billion dollars annually, environmental pollution and climate change, hunting and fishing, and the introduction of non-native species that compete with native ones. “We know what the causes are and we know the scale of the impact that humans are having on nature and on wildlife populations – said Mike Barrett, head of science and policy at WWF – it really is now down to us to act”.
The most threatened species
Animals living in lakes, rivers and wetlands are suffering the biggest losses, dropping by 81 percent between 1970 and 2012. This is due to groundwater pollution (amphibians breathe through their skin, so are particularly sensitive to water pollution) and the fragmentation of freshwater ecosystems. Big vertebrates, including African elephants and sharks, are also endangered and are threatened by poaching and overfishing.
It’s time to change
Considering these alarming data, a change is necessary, before it’s too late. According to experts, 2020 could be the good year, because it is when some measures adopted at Cop 21 will enter into force and some of the goals of the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development are set to be achieved. From a utilitarian point of view, wildlife decline is a huge economic loss for our species. But, of course, there’s more to it. When most of the living beings with which we share the Earth are extinct, we will realise that the world is empty and sad without animals, and we will feel so alone.
Molecules that eat up plastic waste, including PET bottles, may soon become widely used as scientists leap ahead in developing new super enzymes.
In Italy’s Land of Fires between Naples and Caserta, activists like Carmen Medaglia are fighting to promote new ways of managing waste.
Toxic substances in Kamchatka’s waters have killed 95% of marine fauna and caused health problems for surfers. The causes, however, are still unknown.
A Magellanic penguin was found lifeless on a Brazilian beach: in its stomach, an N95 face mask. Researchers believe the animal died from ingesting it.
The drop in air pollution during worldwide lockdowns helped prevent thousands of premature deaths. But the situation is returning to pre-crisis levels.
Dozens of people who fell ill because of toxic fumes and waste from a lead refinery on the outskirts of Mombasa have found justice in court.
Moha Tawja is an activist fighting for the right to water in Morocco. The water defender tells us about the damage caused by the mining industry.
Single-use face masks and gloves used as protection from the coronavirus have been found on the shores and in the waters of major European rivers.