The Effects of Losing 60% of Animal Populations Since 1970

You do not have to keep up on the environmental news to know that several more animals are on the endangered species list, and many have been on there for years. Poachers are a problem in countries around the world, but it is not the only problem our animal populations face. About 60 percent of animal populations have declined since 1970. If we do not start making changes, we will see several different species go extinct.

The Statistics

There were 59 scientists from all over the world that came together for this study, and the WWF produced the report. In a nutshell, the report states that human life is destroying the web of life, which is billions of years in the making. Normally, numbers tend to put things into perspective, so let’s take a look at the statistics for this study.

  • We have lost 60 percent of animal populations since 1970. If there was a 60 percent decline in human life, that would be like losing everyone in North America, South America, Europe, China, and Oceania. That is a drastic decline.
  • Scientists state that we are entering the Earth’s sixth mass extinction, and this is the first one that has been caused by a species. (Here is a hint: that species is us.)
  • Human life has destroyed 83 percent of all mammals. If the destruction ended right now, it would still take five to seven million years to recover.
  • The habitats that suffer the most are rivers and lakes, which have seen an 83 percent decrease in animal populations.
  • The regions of the world that suffer the most are Central and South America. In these areas, deforestation has caused an 89 percent decline in vertebrate populations.
  • Due to chemical pollution, half of the world’s killer whale population will likely die from PCB contamination. 

This information only scratches the surface. There are several species that struggle every day, and we cannot include every single one of them here. The important information to take away from this is that the human race is killing ecosystems and we have to stop it.

animal populations, deforestation, endangered, extinction, farmland

Why We Need Animal Populations

For anyone who does not realize the severity of this decline in animal populations, this is about more than just enjoying nature. Every ecosystem is complex and needs each organism to maintain balance. In fact, Professor Bob Watson, an environmental scientist and currently the chair of an intergovernmental panel on biodiversity, states that the “destruction of nature is as dangerous as climate change.” Nature produces our food, clean water, and energy, and it also regulates the Earth’s climate, pollution, and pollination. 

The biggest cause of the 60 percent decrease in animal populations is the destruction of their natural habitat, mainly farmland. In the tropical savanna in Brazil, humans clear an area the size of Greater London every two months. The next greatest cause of this decline is killing animals for food. We overfish the oceans and half of that is industrialized fishing. On top of that, people are eating 300 mammal species into extinction.

What You Can Do to Help

While all this information may be depressing, know that there are good deeds happening in the world. Conservation efforts have saves tigers in India from extinction, as well as Giant pandas in China and otters in the UK. In order to make a difference yourself, you can start by eating less meat. Farms use literally tons of resources to feed their livestock, which contributes to the growth of farmland. You can also do all you can to cut down on waste, whether that be with food or other products. This will help you stop consuming unnecessary resources and spending more money than you have to.

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Lacey Jolley

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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