This is a quick summary of The Living Planet Report 2014 produced by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in collaboration with the Global Footprint Network, Water Footprint Network and the Institute of Zoology.
The Living Planet Index (LPI), which measures trends in thousands of vertebrate species populations, shows a decline of 52 per cent between 1970 and 2010. In other words, the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish across the globe is, on average, about half the size it was 40 years ago. Biodiversity is declining in both temperate and tropical regions.
Habitat loss and degradation, and exploitation through hunting and fishing, are the primary causes of decline. Climate change is the next most common primary threat, and is likely to put more pressure on populations in the future.
For more than 40 years, humanity’s demand on nature has exceeded what our planet can replenish. We would need the regenerative capacity of 1.5 Earths to provide the ecological services we currently use. “Overshoot” is possible because we cut trees faster than they mature, harvest more fish than oceans replenish, or emit more carbon into the atmosphere than forests and oceans can absorb.
While the world’s poorest continue to be the most vulnerable, the interconnected issues of food, water and energy security affect us all. Today almost a billion people suffer from hunger, 768 million live without a safe, clean water supply, and 2.7 billion depend on traditional sources of energy such as wood as their main fuel for cooking and heating.
“One Planet Perspective” outlines better choices for managing, using and sharing natural resources within the planet’s limits – to ensure food, water and energy security for all.
It requires that we:
- Preserve natural capital: Restore damaged ecosystems, halt the loss of priority habitats, significantly expand protected areas.
- Produce better: Reduce inputs and waste, manage resources sustainably, scale-up renewable energy production.
- Consume more wisely: Through low-footprint lifestyles, sustainable energy use and healthier food consumption patterns.
- Redirect financial flows: Value nature, account for environmental and social costs, support and reward conservation, sustainable resource management and innovation.
- Equitable resource governance: Share available resources, make fair and ecologically informed choices, measure success beyond GDP.
You can get more information on the report at the WWF website here. In the meantime, watch this excellent video telling the story of what is going on in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.