A new report claims that we are statistically on track to lose two-thirds of the earth's animal population by 2020. The projection is based on a comparison to vertebra animal populations in 1970 with a benchmark of us having lost 58% by 2012. By 2020, researchers predict this number will grow to 67 percent.
The report was compiled by researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London and their results found that this alarming drop in the number of animals is caused by human destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution.
Wildlife and natural land losses are so staggering that geology experts believe we have entered a new Anthropocene era where humans dominate the planet. Experts recommended their Anthropocene era to International Geological Congress in August. Our current epoch, the Holocene period, began with climate stabilization after the last ice age and encompasses early human civilization on Earth, but according to experts this era should be documented as ending in the 1950s.
"The striking acceleration since the mid-20th century of carbon dioxide emissions and sea level rise, the global mass extinction of species, and the transformation of land by deforestation and development mark the end of that slice of geological time." -The Guardian
Considering that only 15% of Earth's land is protected for nature, it's no surprise the numbers are so high.
What's scary is that despite our obvious dependence on other species to balance and regulate our eco-systems, we won't know the full consequences of losing them until they're gone.
We've seen this recently with endangered bees.
Marco Lambertini, the director general of WWF, said it better:
“The richness and diversity of life on Earth is fundamental to the complex life systems that underpin it. Life supports life itself and we are part of the same equation. Lose biodiversity and the natural world and the life support systems, as we know them today, will collapse.”
The report also warns that our loss of wildlife could cause human conflicts:
“Increased human pressure threatens the natural resources that humanity depends upon, increasing the risk of water and food insecurity and competition over natural resources.”
"But stemming the overall losses of animals and habitats requires systemic change in how society consumes resources," said WWF’s director of science, Mike Barrett. He suggests that to stop this cycle, "Politicians must also ensure all their policies - not just environmental ones - are sustainable."
“You’d like to think that was a no-brainer in that if a business is consuming the raw materials for its products in a way that is not sustainable, then inevitably it will eventually put itself out of business,” said Barrett.
Only in this case the 'business' is us.