The planet's animal population has fallen 58% in just 40 years

The planet's animal population has fallen 58% in just 40 years

We continue for bingo, and that is that the human being has not had enough to load 10% of the planet.

While we recently discovered that in just 25 years we had destroyed 10% of our planet, a new report by Living Planet, the London Zoological Society (ZSL) and WWF It does not fix the bad image we have of the human species at all.

In this case, and according to said report, the planet’s animal population would have decreased by 58% (almost two thirds) since 1970. But that is not the worst, and it is that the report suggests that if we continue like this, in 2020 we will reach the extinction of two thirds of vertebrates.

How the animal population of the planet has decreased in four decades

The worst part, according to the report which echoes the BBCThe animals that live in lakes, rivers and humid lands take it away. As you can imagine, the causes of destruction of such a large population of animals are well known, and humans are the clear culprits: human activity, loss of habitat, wildlife trade, pollution, climate change

This type of report is not new, in fact Planeta Vivo publishes a similar report every two years with the aim of evaluating the state of the world’s animal population. Stressing, this year, that the freshwater animal population alone has diminished a 81% in more than 40 years.

In the analysis they have focused on 3,700 species different (including birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles), with an approximate representation of 6% of vertebrate species worldwide. Data from revised studies, government statistics and surveys of environmental groups and NGOs were used. Any species with data on two or more occasions from 1970 to now was included in the study and the change over time in those more than 40 years was analyzed.

The lights and shadows of the report on the disappearance of the world’s animal population

Not only has the freshwater animal population suffered more than the average, but other species such as african elephants or the sharks, due to poaching and overfishing respectively, have been overexploited.

Vertebrate populations decrease an average of 2% each year, which implies that in 2020 we will have lost 67% of the animal population (two thirds in total). Also, as the researchers emphasize in the report, the decrease in the wild animal population does not imply extinctions. This means that, in general, species are not being lost but are decreasing. We have an opportunity to save the situation.

On the other hand, some criticisms regarding the study have appeared. Some numbers are very sensitive (we have more data) and others are very superficial (due to lack of data). As Stuart Pimm, professor of ecology at Drake University (USA) puts it well:

Some numbers are sensible, but there are other very mediocre numbers. For example, the study is highly biased towards Western Europe. If we look elsewhere, not only do we have much less data, but in practice the report oversizes it. For example, we know next to nothing about South America, Tropical Africa or the tropics in general. They are mixing a lot of data from some sources with little from others, and the result is faulty

Obviously the creators of this report defend themselves by ensuring that have tried to use the best possible data from around the world, although it is true that in some regions (such as the tropics) there is a serious lack of data. They have tried to use the best methods to make a global estimate, but studies are never perfect, because it always deals with samples.

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