The WWF conservation group is out with the results of a massive new assessment of the world's wildlife, and things are looking pretty grim. The big takeaway stat is that populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians have plunged by an average of 60% since 1970, reports the Guardian. Human encroachment on the animals' environments is the big culprit, and the consequences for people go far beyond having fewer nature scenes at which to marvel, warns the group. "We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff," says Mike Barrett of WWF. "If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania." The group is calling for an international agreement on par with the 2015 Paris accord for the climate.
An example of some of the specifics, as culled from the report by outlets including NBC News, CNN, and the BBC:
- Species in South and Central America suffered an 89% loss since 1970, with animals that rely on freshwater, including frogs, down 83%
- 90% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs, compared with 5% decades ago
- Only a quarter of the planet's land is considered free of human impact, and that's expected to drop to one-tenth by 2050
- The population of African grey parrots in Ghana fell by 98% between 1992 and 2014
- Ivory poaching led to a 60% drop in African elephants in Tanzania between 2009 and 2014
- 100,000 orangutans were lost thanks to deforestation in Borneo between 1999 and 2015
- Final quote: "We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it," says Tanya Steele, the WWF's chief executive in the UK.
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