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The world populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles fell by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010, far faster than previously thought, the World Wildlife Fund said on Tuesday. The conservation group's Living Planet Report, published every two years, said humans' demands were now 50 percent more than nature can bear, with trees being felled, groundwater pumped and carbon dioxide emitted faster than Earth can recover. "This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live," Ken Norris, Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London, said in a statement.
The report found that the biggest declines in vertebrate wildlife populations were in tropical regions, especially Latin America. The WWF's so-called "Living Planet Index" is based on trends in 10,380 populations of 3,038 mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and fish species. The average 52 percent decline was much bigger than previously reported, partly because earlier studies had relied more on readily available information from North America and Europe, WWF said. The same report two years ago put the decline at 28 percent between 1970 and 2008.
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