WWF predicts wild animal populations will plummet 67 percent by 2020

October 27, 2016 by  
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Two-thirds of wild animals around the world could be gone in less than five years , according to a new report compiled by researchers from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London. The latest edition of Living Planet Index (LPI), released this week, warns that loss of habitat due to environmental destruction, global warming, hunting, and pollution will result in a sixth mass extinction. Using 1970 animal population data as a baseline, scientists have measured the state of biological diversity and now warn that the world will have lost 67 percent of its animals by 2020 if major conservation efforts are not implemented immediately. The LPI report measures the condition of the world’s biodiversity by evaluating population trends of animals that live on both land and in the sea. The new report recognizes that dangers to animals worldwide are not new. In fact, researchers point to a 58-percent overall drop in global populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2012. That translates to an approximate 2-percent loss of species each year. Environmental destruction has continued, both directly at the hands of humans in the form of hunting and deforestation, as well as secondary effects such as rising global temperatures, making the threat even more severe. Related: Vanishing land snail signals the 6th mass extinction is well underway The LPI warns that we are approaching a crucial threshold and, without major conservation efforts, the worldwide decline in animal populations will reach 67 percent by 2020. “We are no longer a small world on a big planet. We are now a big world on a small planet, where we have reached a saturation point,” said Prof Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, in a foreword for the report. Of all animals on earth, those dwelling in rivers and lakes have been impacted most severely by human activity. Animal populations in freshwater wetlands are down by 81 percent from 1970 figures, which the LPI report says is attributed to excessive water extraction, pollution, and dams. Global warming, which forces animals to adjust their habits, lifestyles, and even territories, amplifies the negative effects of human action and accelerates the loss of life. Via The Guardian Images via Wikipedia ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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WWF predicts wild animal populations will plummet 67 percent by 2020

Scientists say Great Barrier Reef coral death has reached devastating heights

October 27, 2016 by  
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Data from a period of widespread coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef is trickling in and it does not look good. Researchers are finding that the formerly pristine northern section of the reef has been hit especially hard , with up to 80 percent of corals killed as a result of warming waters or subsequent predators and disease. A recent report from researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook Universit y in Queensland shows the most up to date state of the damage. Scientists have taken several surveys since March, when the area was inundated with unseasonably warm waters – each painting a bleaker picture than the last. Estimates in May suggested at least 50 percent of the northern reef had died, a statistic that was bumped up to 80 percent with these recent findings. “The mortality is devastating really,” senior research fellow Andrew Hoey told The Washington Post . “It’s a lot higher than we had hoped.” Related: No, the Great Barrier Reef isn’t dead – but it is damaged If there is any silver lining to this report, it is that the central and southern areas of the reef were not hit as badly as the north. To put things into perspective, a total 22 percent of corals have died cross the entire reef, according to the The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority . Where the damage is most severe, researchers note the influx of climate change-induced warm waters resulted in the first wave of coral die-off. Invasion of predatory snails and disease have since swept in to kill much of the surviving corals. This particular bleaching event is said to be even worse than those of 1998 and 2002 – though more data needs to be gathered. Hoey says it could take one or two decades for the reef to recover from such devastation, assuming another mass bleaching event does not strike again in that time. With climate change doing anything but slowing down, those chances might be slim. Via  The Washington Post Images via  Wikimedia , Pixabay

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Scientists say Great Barrier Reef coral death has reached devastating heights

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